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Glasgow, apparently

Let’s go to Glasgow this weekend! What do you mean you’re busy?

Suit yourselves.

For sure, it’s been donkey’s (donkeys!) years since the idea of going to a club night has made me consider traveling 400 miles for the privilege – East London can seem like a stretch on a brisk evening, regardless of the thrills promised. I’m talking here about JD Twitch and JG Wilkes’ Sunday shindig ‘Optimo (Espacio)’ (Optimum Space), running since way back in 1997. Also producing and DJing under the name Optimo, the duo came to my attention with their 2004 DJ mix ‘How To Kill The DJ (Part 2)’ on Tigersushi.


A tangled blend of disco, techno, funk, new wave and avant-rock, the overall effect is of a hallucinatory night being dragged from club to club, snatches of the evening’s soundtrack swirling together into one filthy gorgeous whole. Split into two CDs, the first designed to reflect the late-night, slightly harder parts of their DJ sets with the second more relaxed and contemplative. A thrillingly colourful release, what grabbed my insides was how clear it was that these guys were MUSIC fans.


2005’s ‘Psyche Out’ mix on Eskimo drew me further in. This time focusing on acid-house and psychedelic rock, the surprising stylistic blends continue to sound eager and unforced like that friend who rushes up to with headphones – ‘Listen to this!’. High points include Simple Minds’ (yes, Simple Minds) epic ‘Theme For Great Cities’ and Chris & Cosey’s utterly wonderful ‘Walking Through Heaven’

‘Theme For Great Cities’

‘Walking Through Heaven’

All of which left me suitably primed for this year’s ‘Sleepwalk’ on Domino.


What’s most interesting is what it isn’t rather than what it is. Optimo have been, due to their fondness for post-punk-funk and other 80s phenomena, unfairly lumped together with a myriad of unimaginative mash-up electro DJs. Whilst their sets have shared a hectic, freeform party feel, their sheer enthusiasm for all forms of music has always shined through.

‘Sleepwalk’ however is set far away from any busy dancefloor. It has a syrupy, ambient feel like an evolving daydream. The discerning drone-noir of Nurse With Wound and Coil gives way to krautrock electronics – then Duke Ellington and Lee Hazlewood step in with louche velvet jams, unexpected yet perfectly in synch with each other. Sure, it’s relaxing but rich and deep with elegant joys at each turn, a faint narcotic twinge stroking the hairs on your neck.

The fact that Optimo have been DJing regularly for at least the last decade – and I have yet to see them – upsets me. I suggest a trip up North to their titular club night forthwith, but I’m not going on my own.

I said, I’m not going on my own.

Here’s their Essential Mix from 2006 – good, but not a patch on the releases mentioned above. Still, worth checking.


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