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Review: Used & Abused, 12th September

Carl Cox breathes the fresh air of Dice's open air residency.

Even at this late stage of the game some questions still hang in the air. The melding of Dice and his tough-tech skin with Ushuaïa and its ingrained glitz was one of the brave surprises of this season, brows were furrowed and interest piqued at the attempts of the Düsseldorf exponent to fashion a dusky underground home for his residency, Used & Abused. Has it been curiosity then, that has driven many to the neon-green glow by the beach? To garner the required momentum Dice has kept up a frequent string of cross-club appearances throughout the summer that have contributed to the rise - and widening - of his island profile. This week saw quick fire Revolutionary head Carl Cox depart from his yawning bunker to grace the fresh air - and Dice's committed audience - with the latest island back to back episode.

Stepping into Ushuaïa the stage was brilliantly ablaze and the sound suitably solid. The arrangement of the forward VIP area can on occasion create an awkward crush zone but this was avoided by opening the raised areas beside each main speaker stack - creating an intimate peopled pincer movement around Dice and his team. Keeping close amongst his favoured heavy-step bass lines and low-slung grooves, Dice spliced slo-mo tech funk with notes of inspired darkness. A mechanised animal growl choked around the space before Hot Since 82's remix of Green Velvet's Bigger Than Prince snuck a dose of crisp acidised groove amongst the pigeons. As what seemed like in-house tech problems stopped the audio dead for a second time Dice brokered the silence with as much aplomb as could be expected, taking the mic and drawling, 'This is how we do it here.” Cue eventual sonic revival and a slew of freight-train muscle cuts received by an empathetic crowd.

With little fan fare Cox delved straight into what seemed like an onslaught of pre-planned proportions - there was ground to cover. Beginning with ethnic brass and perky rhythms lashed over more classic, rounded examples Cox injected some sunny smiles. Combining varied instrumental phases with the militant - a ringing trumpet solo came before an attack of brittle hats - the always jubilant selector ran from the tech of Mark Fanciulli's Sacrifice through puffs of Detroit disco synth to hard style thump. Showcasing the breadth that has ensured his continuing success Cox ducked into a clicking, minimal lair in preparation for the last hour of back-to-back experimentation.

When two DJs share a stage it is often an opportunity to witness something precariously exciting and definitively unique. People talk of bonds, of friendships and of business - Dice and Cox represent the simplistic and most dangerous realisation of the act: the thrusting together of two very different styles. A mic check from Cox and a dual spotlight heralded the reappearance of the party head and a duck back to harder material. Dice seemed uncompromising in his selections, immediately asserting his sound and leaving limited room for Cox to maneuver but after a handful of off-beat mixes the pair settled into a frame where both egos could stretch their legs.

Used & Abused is one of the more interesting parties on the island. Where something that defies convention normally offers only the polar extremes of success, Dice has taken a risk in breaking the mould and with his dedicated following and slew of solid line-ups his exploration of untrodden ground still hums with excitement.

Words by Michael Huntington, Photography by James Chapman.

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