Kehakuma: Where East Meets West

The Japanese theme is baffling. The main draw to the mid-week Kehakuma party at Space seems to be its underground German influence, a heady mix of deep, minimal house and techno driven by the meteoric rise of the ‘Mannheim Sound’.

GERMANY’S city of Mannheim is gaining a burgeoning reputation for spawning innovative electronic music – a sound that has been heavily pioneered by resident Space DJ and producer Nick Curly (of Cécille and 8bit Records). He’s joined at Kehakuma this summer by his Mannheim mates Ray Okpara and Johnny D, with lent German support from the likes of Booka Shade, M.A.N.D.Y. and Tiefschwarz.

So to publicise the event throughout Ibiza with a giant Geisha girl on its billboard just seems, well…misleading. Sure there were dancers at the club in oriental get-up which – all credit to Space’s creative forces – looked spectacular. Then there were the two terracotta warriors flanking the main stage (actually Chinese not Japanese, but warranted – it’s Eastern terrain nevertheless). Indeed, it would be more fitting having a man in Lederhosen eating bratwurst and drinking beer from an oversized glass on the publicity posters, would it not? Less aesthetically pleasing than the current model perhaps, but geographically accurate all the same.

Still, despite Kehakuma’s apparent identity crisis, the Wednesday night party offers some innovative sounds with new and established players thrown into the mix and, after a test run in 2009, it seems to have found its musical niche.

The main room was barely half full in sharp contrast to Carl Cox’s crowded birthday bash the night before. It’s a shame because the music was good, and the scene was minimal in every respect; minimal techno, minimal crowd, minimal fuss. Yes despite the echoey scene in the main discothèque, the terrace rocked with an easy going and friendly, seemingly mixed gay and straight crowd.

Nick Curly – captivating and cool as ever – had the audience in the palm of his hands while pulling tricks on the decks and flirting with the new school tech house sound that has made him one of the most exciting DJs in Ibiza, and a significant facilitator in the recent house revival. Afterward, Tiefschwarz brothers Ali and Basti Schwarz followed with a gritty, edgy electro house and a bass that felt like it was going right through you; the two DJs jumping around the booth and trading places before Dutch DJ and producer 2000 and One took to the controls.

Kehakuma shows promise for becoming one of Ibiza’s most influential and experimental parties with a ground-breaking line up to see us through 2010. It’s evident where Kehakuma is going; it just needs to establish where it’s from.

First published on I Voice, Ibiza, July 2010.
© Abbey Stirling