Live Transmissions: 303 // Henry Saiz and Pig & Dan, Constellations, Liverpool

303 brought all manner of manna to the masses as they celebrated their annual all day event, helped along by Henry Saiz and Pig & Dan.

303 brought all manner of manna to the masses as they celebrated their annual all day event, helped along by Henry Saiz and Pig & Dan. The Waveform Transmitter’s Jack Threlfall was there to witness the spectacle.

The indomitable figure of Henry Saiz, clad in black, stood poised behind the decks of the 303 garden party swigging nonchalantly from a can of beer. A throng of friends and promoters stood behind him, all with a knowing grin etched onto their faces, looking proudly into the eyes of the tantalised crowd before them.

Mr. Saiz had only just introduced a bassline into the mix, but the anticipation swimming around the mass of party-goers had them already whooping and hollering. For those that are not acquainted with the ethos and history of the 303 crew – it may have seemed premature – however, not 6 months ago, the Spanish selector had enacted a certified masterclass of an all night long set for the Liverpool techno outfit.

His reputation and stock amongst the loyal Scouse following was sky high. They knew what they were in for – a true expedition into the hallowed record collection of an undeniably unique DJ and producer.

Within the first 20 minutes of his set, Henry Saiz had already set the overarching motif of his performance; billowing interstellar rhythms circumnavigated the sonic space of the Constellations garden and began to make the feet of the crowd slowly levitate above the ground.

The commitment to a progressive structure really allowed the DJ to explore a somewhat mystical aesthetic of sound. Pondering basslines provided the prefect foundation for Saiz to lay down Egyptian sounding lead synth lines, none of which ever seemed to retain the same electronic characteristic for long.

Grand envelopes of modulation and resonant filter sweeps manipulated the looped notation in such a way that it bestowed a dream-like haze around the space; so dream-like in fact that an element of the surreal gripped this writer’s perception.

A man in a cowboy hat skipped merrily through the dancing mass exclaiming “Yee-Ha”, whilst pocket sized disco balls – borrowed from the world of Wonderland – and Chinese lanterns lined every edge of the looming garden canvas. Large burly men were found embracing as they rediscovered long lost club brotherhood, with nymph-like women prancing in circles around them to the ensuing ethereal sounds.

The crowd and Saiz became almost symbiotic, for every new note that would reverberate through the Funktion One sound system, the euphoria and joy felt by those in attendance continued to swell. And for every scream of “yes”, for every shuffle and step and for every collective “woo”, Mr Saiz would respond with the exact musical selection that was required.

Meditative bass squelches began to loiter in the distance, whilst tin snare hits echoed in, what seemed like, eternity. A familiar vocal chimed in:

Slight of hand
Jump off the end
Into a clear lake
No one around
Just dragonflies
No one gets hurt

This was the voice of Thom Yorke. Henry Saiz had dropped his own remix of Radiohead’s Codex and the result was something quite indescribable. As the thick reverb of the iconic piano line drifted amongst the crowd, a unifying quality settled upon the garden;  for at least 1 second, every pair of eyes had sealed shut and nobody felt anything but complete immersion.

As the Spanish wizard ventured forward, he carefully selected the most blissful range of music; everything from Joe Goddard’s Music is the Answer, to his own remix of Bananarama’s Cruel Summer. The man could do no wrong and his path to the set’s conclusion was one of pensive consideration

Marco Lys remix of Kaiser Souzai‘s Sequoia was particularly encapsulating. Closed hi-hats lined the sonic field – bleeping and swirling electronic stabs whirred and contorted around the space, ultimately transmogrifying into viscous acid notes. Toy organ samples built towards a spacey break and punctuated the narrative with idyllic consideration.

All the while, structured drum rolls began to consume and rattle the tiny bones within all of the attendee’s ears. Finally, a heaven sent drop invigorated the crowd into rapture.  Saiz had peaked, and the almost mathematical workings of such a progressive set had finally delivered its payload. No one was left wanting.

As the crowd filtered from the garden into the Constellations warehouse space the time has come for a venture into unadulterated techno territory.

Pig and Dan took no time to announce their techno vision to the ensuing mass. The regimented percussion that seemed to permeate every aspect of their set quickly snapped the crowd to attention and bestowed a stomping synchronicity to all of the dancing feet.

Deep cyclones of bass whirled around the centre of the dance floor, dragging people into an unstoppable frenzy – a truly techno phenomenon. Deconstructed vocal samples and high intensity snare bursts provided a focused and impactful undercurrent of minimalist perfection, whilst a deluge of surging sawtooth synthesisers caused a lawless outbreak of debauchery amongst the crowd.

When 303 resident, Stuart Hodson, entered the fray, he played the perfect foil to the structured and disciplined characteristics of Pig & Dan. The calmness of the Liverpool DJ was to belie the destructive sway of his impending track selection. The beginning of his closing set was dominated by pensive and, at times, eerie sounds, as tracks like Keith Carnel’s Cloudy Monday echoed around the space.

Hodson’s wealth of musical knowledge allowed him to veer into a variety of techno orientated tangents, duly displaying a strong penchant for funk, with broken violins and chopped up trumpet samples sliding around a range of consistently domineering basslines. The final track, Knights of Jaguar by DJ Rolando, was a masterstroke of classic sensibilities, ultimately, validating all of those that had stuck it out to the bitter end.

The pummelling nature of the music being selected highlighted the palpable juxtaposition of the evening. It became clear that the 303 crew are masterful event organisers. From the dreamy soundscape orchestrated by Henry Saiz to the incessantly focused techno of Pig & Dan, it was an electronic music lover’s dream line-up, and credit must be paid to 303 for having such a forward thinking strategy of event production.


Author: Jack Threlfall

A loquacious disciple of electronic music and the written word.

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