I’ve waited all year for Osunlade to drop by our shores again. This high-priest of house whose Yoruba-styled tunes have influenced many a DJ, hipster and scenester in the scene. Of course, many house music disciples came down to VU last Friday to pay homage to the Ifa priest’s soulful and organic sounds.
The man did not disappoint, dropping soul-tinged riddims and tech-fused beats amid a flurry of African drums. The first cut? A four-to-the-floor no-nonsense old-school house banger—jarringly soulful stuff after the solid half-hour of tech that preceded it. Nevertheless the crowd digs it, there are plenty of yells of approval, before gradually the tech beats start subsiding and Osunlade mixes into some…afrobeat. All hell broke loose when he dropped Afrobeat song-of-the-moment “Kuar” and Frankie Feliciano’s now-classic rerub of Osunlade’s “Cantos a Ochun & Oya”. When Chuck Robert’s clarion call, “My House” was put on the platter, a flurry of hands reached out to the heavens in approval.
The tech-tinged tracks continue for a short while, after which point Osunlade comes back to the soulful house which seems to be the foundation upon which he builds his sets. Eventually the beats become less intense and the mood becomes more laid back as the crowd enjoys a blissful come down. We were hoping that Osunlade would drop a couple more vintage disco tracks to end night but he slyly let the beats run for resident JNR to take over. By then, the crowd thinned and the party although was over in my book. Osunlade’s set was extremely enjoyable, but I think some of us were expecting a little bit more.
Over at Zouk, headliner Luciano had the whole club whooping and hollering, and for the next few hours Luciano seemed content to concentrate on playing one of the most enjoyable, satisfying and house-driven sets from him we’ve heard. Nothing was left to fester and grow tedious, nor were pieces piled onto become a dizzying miasma of confusing spectacle. Mixing jaunty Cadenza-esque bounce with tougher, spindly rhythms (I’m sure I heard Underworld in there), which the crowd lapped up. Its hard not to guess that Zouk’s crowd on that night was a predominantly young one as blank stares were seen when Luciano dropped Ultra Nate’s “Free” and Bjork’s “Hyperballad” amid the driving beats.
A slight lull signalled that Luciano was saving some for the finish and we got some booty shakin’ Cadenza beats. Time was running out, but Luciano upped the pressure, managing to finish with a jaw-dropping finale, working the efx. Many were lost for words at the end, but when the dust settled, they roared for another record – but alas time had beaten us. Luciano thanked the crowd repeatedly and was escorted away – his work was done here.