Review: An Evening with Hessle Audio

hessle31 January 2015 © Photography by Khris Cowley of Here & Now

After the success of the first installment of An Evening With, which hosted Floating Points and his incredible record selection  at Bristol’s Factory Studios, it came as little surprise that the next session featuring Hessle Audio trio – Pangaea, Ben UFO and Pearson Sound – was going to be just as anticipated.

The recently launched 550-capacity venue also on Motion’s site, The Marble Factory, was kitted out with a sound system that could rival the best. This was the place to be on this particular Saturday, as Hessle Audio co-owners Pangaea (Kevin McAuley), Ben UFO (Ben Thompson) and Pearson Sound (David Kennedy), settled in for a mammoth six-hour set.

As we walked in we were greeted by ‘Strife Within’ by ADMX-71, a heavy synth laden sound somewhat typical of the recent Hessle Audio style. This track builds and builds, with roaring synth guitars and thundering bass producing a soundscape that draws in the listener with no room for escape. A steady crowd of chilly bodies slowly accumulated from the dark, warmed and welcomed by Ben UFO’s recognisable rhythmic tease.

The trio seamlessly swapped throughout the night, with only a change in tempo or subtle switch up making you look up to see which one of the three was next up. For us, the highlight was when Pearson Sound hit the decks. He played a heavily percussive set, a skilful amalgamation of his past much loved sound under the alias Ramadanman, and his new Hessle Audio-esque influences of techno thumping all blended into one.

As expected with the Hessle Audio boys, the lines between genres were well and truly blurred. Listening to the trio carve a set through the crisp sound of the Marble Factory’s system was an experience in itself, with Pearson Sound subtly building layer upon layer, ensuring a constant sense of relentlessness throughout.

As the night progressed, Hessle Audio intertwined lighter sounding dance tracks such as Inner City’s ‘Big Fun‘ with their contemporary signature sound reflected in tunes such as ‘Hysterics’ by HTRX9. It became obvious why the label is renowned for breaking boundaries between musical genres such as dubstep, house and techno. Their take can be daunting, but if you sit back and take it all in, you soon realise that nobody else comes close to what they do.

Seen not as progressive but as limiting, Hessle have reshaped the notion that tracks should be classed in genres, a constantly evolving attitude. The regular Hessle Audio show on Rinse FM, hosted by Ben UFO and Pearson Sound, explores a similar idea, with each show being a snapshot of both UFO and Pearson’s current playlists. With the long awaited release of Pearson Sound’s debut album on 9th March, these boys just keep on giving.

Had you seen these three a couple of years ago and compared it with this evening in Bristol, you might have noticed the savvy shifts in their musical path-making: Pearson Sound’s Ramadanman past rearing its head in some heavy base music,  still characteristic of his style; or the trio mixing in some grime and funk before melting into the unfaltering sounds of techno and house. The Hessle Audio crew don’t lean on dead trends, but create new ones instead. Telling of their generation, they’re not afraid to disregard genres, mix things up and shed light on the spaces in between.

An Evening With returns on 2nd April with Bicep. Pearson Sound’s self-titled album comes out on 9th March via Hessle Audio.

Words by Tom Beldam and Georgina Bolton

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