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Review: Cocoon Opening Party 2013

Cocoon brings a darkened aesthetic to the White Island.

The dawn of this year's Ibizan season brings with it a gaggle of virgin nights jostling for notoriety and a spark of sought after originality. Entering its 14th season on the island, Sven Väth's Cocoon - carefully curated to become one of the industries most iconic brands - made the conscious decision to shirk the colourful trifles of its peers and return to a policy firmly focused on music. Featuring an intelligent mix of titans and relative newcomers the opening party of Cocoon's jungle carcass was a decidedly family affair; its followers were led by the hand and taken gently into the lost.

Amnesia's main room began with Cocoon regular Sascha Dive. The young German - known for pushing a raw original aesthetic - continued to cement his position as a celebrated Cocoon fixture. Thick, rounded bass bathed in the electric blue light of a rushing volcanic beam warmed the shuffling feet of the audience as the prolific producer delivered a fusion of classic tinged records.

Throughout the night each artist seemed to lean towards the past days of Techno, conjuring images of dirty concrete and days gone by. On the leafy Terrace Dorian Paic, another of Väth's prodigal group dispensed a pleasingly original sound coupling house-tinged rhythms with the warm acid synths of the Motor City. Perhaps Cocoon was using the party to deliver a stately nod to its own heritage, or a statement of intent, highlighting its purebred roots and its commitment to considered quality.

Väth's decision to include live acts within his program made for an exciting addition. Ibiza-newcomer Julien Bracht represents the new breed of pioneering live artists in the purest form. Using a full acoustic percussive drum kit as the centrepiece of his performance the Frankfurt native spun an atmospheric cloud of tribal rhythm fused with classically sounding rave techno motifs. Wearing white and under a blinding spotlight, Bracht led the Terrace into an Aztec techno celebration, a sacrificial rite of passage to those gathered around his podium.

Ahead of his own Ibizan venture Guy Gerber treated the enthusiastic crowd to another dynamic show over in the main room. Layering a solid low end with ringing chords and muffled choking vocals Gerber painted a journey through an illustrated dream world, using high-pitched drones to create a set full of rises and tumbles.

Taking the concept of the 'extended set' (so popular in the dark halls of Berlin) to the island allowed the party chiefs, Väth and Villalobos to cultivate a certain unique magic. The Terrace of Amnesia is made for such a man as Ricardo Villalobos. As dawn began to lighten the lofty panels Ricardo shirked the dark cloud that has begun to dog him and delivered an impeccably chaotic master class. Latin percussion flew like butterflies through a hazy mix of delicate techno. His usual chorus chanting met with angry fluttering trumpets, bleeps and chasing voices as the assembled spectators were led through a sun-soaked jungle to a warped rendition of 'The Age of Love.'

A gleaming lion twisted and rose on the screen as Väth stepped forward, the room waited to see whether the creator is deserved of his loving reverence. If Villalobos was the herald of a blinking doomsday, then Väth was the amiable priest. Ambient alien sounds and industrial scrapes were the order in the main room as Cocoon delivered on its mantra to stay true to the music. Pig and Dan's 'Savage' with its rolling industrial groove, ethereal vocal and scuttling claps was at the peak of a set which brought a grimy, dirty flare to an island which of late, has been in danger of straying too far towards the light.

Utilising extended sets, a stripped production aesthetic and the propagation of the infamous Cocoon after parties the brand has succeeded in transporting the emphatic and unquenchable spirit of mainland European techno to the sandy shores of the island. With the closure of Cocoon's flagship venue in Frankfurt and the hard reality of economic times effecting the global population one might think that the future of such a hedonistic past-time as ours hangs in the balance. But as a more underground sound experiences a welcome resurgence on the island it is obvious that the resolve of electronic music's most celebrated father has only grown stronger and that the wings of Cocoon shall continue to spread.

Photography by James Chapman

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