For the second volume of Electronic Cafe’s showcase of talent from the electronic genre hosted by organisers Mark Wibrow and Andy McNab, the former Kraftwerk percussionist, Wolfgang Flür, headlined with his techno rave show. Before his set, his music partner Peter Duggal opened the night performing a selection of his own tracks, playing the dizzying, brassy synth track, ‘Always Rise’, for which he did vocals, and the warm, spatial breathing space of the ambient and uplifting ‘Edifices’. Duggal moved onto the EBM beats of ‘Disconnected’, from the 2023 EP of the same name as are the aforementioned tracks, for which he also did vocals, and ended on a long, bleeping electronic piece called ‘Lozells Drone Survey’, from a release just the day after his set on the Polytechnic Youth label, and his own collaborative track with Flür, ‘Birmingham’, featured on the latter’s last album, on which they worked with Peter Hook; it noticeably having a New Order feel to it. He did vocals for this too which made it feel more like a live performance than just a DJ set.

Tiny Magnetic Pets were next on the bill with their three-piece synth-pop blend; having supported the likes of Flür and Midge Ure on tour, the Irish musicians have firmly cut their name in the electronic landscape. They started on the fizzing synths and bracketing electric drumbeats of ‘Here Comes the Noise’; Paula Gilmer’s vocals carrying hints of Marc Almond. They moved onto hard hitting, robotic dance track ‘Automation’ which was re-mixed by Erasure’s Vince Clarke, merging the ’80s with the early ’90s. ‘We Shine’ saw repetitive keys that were as emotionally uplifting as the lyrics and the deep pools of liquid synth in darker track ‘No One at the Safehouse’ surrounded a more minimalist duet between Gilmer and keyboard player Seán Quinn. They also included the Numanesque synth of ‘City Sleeps’, ending their set on the 9-minute rocky track of ‘Semaphore’ and its wailing Ultravox-style keyboard solo, which dissolved into ambient waves before lighting up again for the finale.

With his traditional slideshow of Kraftwerk related imagery playing out in the background, Flür began his set on his last studio album, ‘Magazine 1’, with ‘Say No’; a collaboration with Maps. He then launched into his manic techno rave with ‘Musik Soldat’; a marching tune that the ex-Kraftwerk group member has played all over the world – it retains elements of Kraftwerk’s trademark electronic sound infused with white noise and oriental synths. This was taken over by a mechanical, boxy drive track and the growls and arcade game effects of a more industrial sounding track, although these would have been better if there were some noise effects performed by him live, but he opts for his robot dancing throughout the set instead.

Continuing with his latest album, Flür sewed samples from his title track, ‘Magazine’, into a fluid techno beat, but it was a shame to lose so much of it in the thumping sound. Continuing with the new album, he played the galloping beats and samples from ‘Best Buy’, with sound effects and maniacal laughter. He also included a cover of the magical ‘Neon Lights’ from Kraftwerk’s ‘The Man-Machine’, and a fashionably banal ‘Cinema’ with underlying synths and a built-in vocal sample. Flür then played his latest single, ‘Electric Sheep’, from his last album, with deconstructed, bubbling synth. He ended his set on exploding synth streams which launched into a full fledged whizzing techno track, before donning his kaiser helmet and marching about the stage to the last song.

The night closed on a more sparsely packed dance floor for the phenomenal talent that is Berlin based, Mancunian DJ Mark Reeder, who made a rare appearance in the UK doing a set inspired by his ’70s-80s influences. This began on a drawn out mix of John Foxx’s ‘Underpass’ and moved to his own tracks such as ‘Lovers of the World (Remarkable mix) and ’21st Century Girl’, with him also playing his other collaborations such as ‘Chaos (Downtown in China remix)’ by STOLEN and closing on Anne Clark’s ‘If’ (Mark Reeder’s Seemingly Forever mix). Unfortunately, Reeder’s set was cut short due to the venue’s licensing laws, so it would be fantastic to see him come back to the UK to headline in the near future.

16/03/24: Electronic Cafe Live, Volume 2 – Peter Duggal + Tiny Magnetic Pets + Wolfgang Flür + Mark Reeder @ 229 the venue, London.

Photos © E. Gabriel Edvy/Blackswitch Labs.

© Ayisha Khan.