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Review: Tribal Sessions at Sankeys, 10th September

DC10 may have had Carola last night, but Sankeys Ibiza was something totally different…

It has to be said, last night didn't start out in the typical pre-clubbing fashion for us. While most people around midnight last night were filling up the bars and preparing to head to parties all over the island, we said goodbye to one of our close friends from home who has been on the white isle since April; a surreal occasion considering that we've pretty much spent the past three months going from one party to the next and exploring Ibiza together. Yet, we knew that if there was one place last night that could provide the perfect antidote to the awful ‘my friends are going home' feeling, it was Tribal Sessions. Tribal is a party that I've totally fallen in love with over the summer and has been a fairly regular fixture in my season calendar, and with the lingering thought that it might be my last Tribal outing of Ibiza 2014 it seemed like there was only one place to go.

By the time we arrived to Playa d'en Bossa, the place was already alive with the sound of techno. Marco Carola at DC10 may have been an effective deterrent for some potential Sankeys-goers, yet the announcement of the legendary Jeff Mills and Derrick May playing in the Lab meant that many clubbers, including ourselves, were resolute in our decision and headed to Sankeys like we were on a mission. Nothing could stop us! When we finally made it to the club, we were welcomed in by the now familiar sounds of Greg Vickers playing back-to-back with Just Be. For me, this was a chance to relive one of my best moments of clubbing when the BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix was recorded in week 8. Just Be has fast become one of my favourite DJs that I've seen this season, in particular his multiple sets at Sankeys. His stripped-back approach to house music and his clear passion for the sounds he creates seem much more palpable in the Basement than any other club on the island, and last night was no different. Pounding percussion gave way to the sound of acid, and while Vickers and Just Be were throwing the dancefloor into the more intense side of the techno spectrum, the trippy visuals on the screen behind them perfectly matched the music along with the ceiling lights above the crowd. For a main room considerably smaller than most on the island, Sankeys fully takes advantage of its intimate feel and creates an immersive experience for partygoers unlike many big clubs.

One of my biggest issues with Tribal is that there are always so many DJs I want to see at every party that I hardly ever get the chance to experience a full set. By the time Vickers and Just Be finished and we made our way to the lab, Jeff Mills was in full flow playing sounds that are seldom heard this side of the Atlantic. The Lab was the perfect setting for Jeff Mills and Derrick May; the Hacienda style design of the room suited the 90s techno being blasted out of the VOID sound system that surrounds the floor. I've often wondered why The Lab is seldom put amongst the more famous club rooms in Ibiza if for nothing else than the atmosphere it provides. It's not ground-breaking and it's not state-of-the-art, but instead it's a homage to clubbing history and the progression of electronic music. Other clubs may struggle to compete with each other over the most expensive production, but both Sankeys and Tribal Sessions throw more focus on the key elements that make a great party.

Mills' first return to the island in two years meant that Detroit techno was the order of the day, providing a welcome change of pace and a much-needed throwback for the island. The music was faster than any techno you usually hear in Ibiza and succeeded in uniting both seasoned ravers and newcomers to Ibiza clubbing, which attests for the quality of the music that Tribal promotes. It was easy to see why Jeff Mills is often regarded as one of the best DJs around – his use of reverb and echo worked pretty much harmoniously with the pace of his tracks and in spite of the speed of the mix, every beat was perfectly synchronised. Moments of surrealism in the form of atonal, beatless interludes transitioned to thunderous percussion and pulsating bass, a simple but intoxicating combination on the dancefloor. Percussion from multiple tracks were combined to make hybrids more punchy and in-your-face than the tracks themselves, adding to the rawness of the music. Mills' set served as a reminder that though there is a divide between the European and American club scenes, The US has created some of the most timeless and groove-laden pieces of electronic music and deserves the respect of clubbers all over the world – ‘Forward thinking music without prejudice', this is what Tribal is all about.

At 5am we returned to the Basement to find Tribal resident Darius Syrossian closing the proceedings with a typically bass-driven set. Double and triple kicks were dotted all around the mix, giving it that signature Darius sound that Tribal lovers have grown to admire if not before the summer, certainly now. An early number that got the crowd worked up was Darius' remix of James Barnsley's Acid Tambourine, recently released on the Sankeys 20th Anniversary album. If anything, the track demonstrated the relevance of the music policy in the Lab. The sounds that Mills pioneered provided the blueprints to the Tribal house and techno sound that has resurged today. Many parties are about playing new tracks week in week out, yet Tribal's intention is to show that house and techno has no expiry date Good music is good music, and that's it.

The irony in Tribal Sessions is that in having such a simple music policy, Syrossian and Sankeys owner David Vincent have given the island something truly different. To see a busy Basement and Lab at a night that is competing with a rare Marco Carola appearance outside of the Amnesia terrace is a triumph for the club and a testament to their success in 2014. Not only that, but Tribal has built up a loyal following in Ibiza and has a great vibe week in week out. It's very difficult for a party from another country to cross over to Balearic soil and replicate what it is famed for, yet Tribal in Ibiza has done just that, and created a community feel on the dancefloor in the process. See you back in London, Tribal!

WORDS | Janson Goldberg PHOTOGRAPHY | Luke Dyson, Sankeys

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