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Review: Mark Sherry @ Circus Afterhours, Nov. 29th 2013


If you like Tech-Trance, you got to like Mark Sherry. Simple as that.

Mark Sherry is, right now, one of the few remaining leaders of Tech-Trance, or the one. While everyone jumped onto the Tech-Trance trend and left it 2 years later (around 2009-2010), Mark Sherry never left it. He is both producing and mixing Tech-Trance almost since he first started to be a DJ. Even while he had Techno and Hard Trance projects on the side, he was still mostly Tech-Trance.

“What is the definition of Tech-Trance?”

When people are talking about “Tech”, I’m always surprised to notice no one knows the meaning.

There’s no official definition but here’s what I understood: Techno, Tech-Trance, Tech-Dance, Tech-House… It’s all sound dominant and non-melodic driven. The genre lies in the ability to make music with sounds, and not melodies (it doesn’t mean if there’s a melody it isn’t Tech though, that’s exactly the purpose of Tech-Trance).

In my opinion, the best example of the definition of Tech-Trance is ‘Tiësto – Traffic’. It’s like… melodic sounds. Melodies… made of sounds. It is difficult to describe but I’m sure you’re getting the picture:

– So for those who think W&W’s most successful productions are Tech-Trance, well not exactly. They might have released a few Tech-Trance tracks but they clearly can’t be categorized as a Tech-Trance duo, based of course on the definition above. It stands more of techy Trance as those tracks were melodic driven than Tech. From a purist point of view, he could say that this kind of Tech-Trance, 2010 W&W and Ummet Ozcan, is to Tech-Trance what Trouse is to Trance; a misuse of the definition, no matter how good it is –

In other words: We call a genre ‘Tech’ if it’s sound-dominant.

That being said, I think Mark Sherry always has been a good representation of the general Tech-Trance sound (genre), kind of similar to Armin van Buuren for Trance. Even though the big Tech-Trance trend faded away, he plays pretty much everything that sounds techy. And you can notice in his last mixes how the other genres took a bit of their influences from tech, such as Psy-Trance (Coming Soon).

Unlike Tech-Trance DJs like Indecent Noise, Phil Taylor and Jordan Suckley to name a few (which are probably also in my top fave DJs of the moment), Mark Sherry manages to play Tech-Trance of every tempo of every style (and even more).
As an example, Indecent Noise is known for his driving side, he plays only – live sets – the driving and high tempo Tech-Trance, which is fine like this.
To give you an idea about Mark Sherry’s style range, it’s pretty much wider: 126/128 to 142 BPM. Adding to that he doesn’t only play Tech-Trance, DJ-wise, he can go for a slice of Uplifting, Tech-House, Psy-Trance, Goa, Bigroom Tech and of course more and more Techno. You don’t get to hear the same mix format from him on repeat quite often.

Enough blablah.

A few weeks ago, Circus Afterhours announced the booking of Mark Sherry on November 29th. 4-hour+ mininum extended set. That looked quite interesting.

In order to get you in the mood while you’ll read the review, here’s Mark Sherry’s set recorded at Circus. Everyone must check it out! At some point of the set, you are crossing through historical chapters at Circus in terms of DJ performance. I recommend you to not look at the tracklist, please let it surprise you. It won’t sound like the best set ever when you click on play, you have to let the build-up grow on you. The magic really takes place later.
Unfortunately 4 or 5 IDs have been removed of the set, so that’s 30 minutes less out of the original set of 4.5 hours

It was unbelievable. In all honesty, I’ve never heard him mix that kind of set before, neither did I hear something similar. It is my favorite international DJ set of the year. I don’t know how it’s possible to top that in 2013. Despite the crowd, Mark Sherry mixed for 4.5 hours.

Luckily Sam (from this site) woke me up at 3:37 am because I was about to skip the whole night. My alarm never rang at 2 and I woke up because of a text he sent me. #afterhoursproblems

So I got to Circus 10 minutes after Mark Sherry started. Not bad, I didn’t skip much I guess. I was really mad for skipping Hollow Earth though, they haven’t really been active for a while and I wanted to hear them open.

The room wasn’t packed, but it was crowded.

Mark Sherry started like he does normally on Bigroom Tech/Trance and similar stuff, at 132 BPM this time. Very good. He played also a crazy hard mashup (which he also did at Dreamland), and did loop “Eat Sleep Rave Repeat” into it. Then went into Industrial Techno, but quickly came back to ‘Mafioso (Mark Sixma Remix)’ after 2 tracks of Techno (did he need to slow down because the crowd wasn’t ready yet for Techno?). This is the only thing that I didn’t like in the build-up; Orjan Nilsen after 2 Industrial Techno tracks is a bit rough for me. I needed a few minutes to really get back into the music again.

After that, the build up was top notch: 3 Tech-Trance tracks, 3 Techno tracks, 3 uplifting, 2 tech-trance, 2 techno, 2 uplifting, 1 techno, 1 tech-trance, 1 uplifting, going back to the 3 formula, etc. with classics everywhere… It followed a precise flow line. I think it took 1h30 to go from 132 to 138 BPM. After 2 hours it was 140 and over.
The progression was quite outstanding, especially if we consider the after-hour section around 7 am.

The set is divided into 2 sections: The regular Mark Sherry ‘Outburst’ section and the after-hour section. The first section is the stuff Mark Sherry usually plays, you know he’s going to play that. It was similar to the set he played at Private Planet in April. It was as good.

Then the after-hour part took place 3 hours later, around 7 am (@ 2h33 in the set if you want to hear it now). Now this is really interesting, you can tell from that moment on this is not the kind of stuff Mark Sherry usually plays, and I never heard that before, not like the way he played.

7h05 am. I’ve noted down the time so I’ll never forget it. Starting at 7h05, those were by far the most intense 40 or 50 minutes – and why not every minute until the end – at Circus ever. Such a peak of wtfness. I’ve never experienced this before at all the raves and EDM events I’ve attended, ever.

“Ok the kids are out. Now it’s time for sex” – by looking at the face of Mark Sherry in the DJ booth at 7 am (it is also when people started to leave)

‘Mark Sherry – My Love’ was playing quite faster than usual when tam-tams and tribal techno were mixing in.

“Oh nice!”, we thought, “it’s different. that’s cool”. Until we became in a state of hypnosis a few minutes later at 7h05 am.

The tam-tams continued and continued… then the beat stopped while the tams were still playing, something else was mixing in the tam-tams. My friends were looking at me “dude this starts to be crazy! I don’t understand what the hell is happening!” They weren’t alone. The drop drops. The tam-tams were still going on and on and on.

2 minutes later, we were hypnotized by that form of psychedelic techno. The complex mixing combined to this hypnotic techno resulted into something completely trippy, psychedelic and hypnotic. I can’t describe further the feeling honestly, it was too trippy. Sort of the most trippy Psy-Trance… but Techno.

DJ Ross and me were smiling like we never smiled at Circus ” What the fuck!!!”, dancing like we lost control of our souls. “I have never heard something like that!”, not at the best nights of my life.

It is exactly for moments like these that we remember why we choose to not sleep at night, to take our winter coat, fight the weather and sacrifice ourselves. These moments worth everything. Just when we thought it was gone, the magic still exist.

7h05 am.

Even 5 days later I’m keeping smiling about that set, and I’m still trying to fix my jaw.

It ended around 8:40 am, after going through classics, more harder psychedelic techno, an endless energetic flow, very high BPMs, non-stop 3/4 decks mixing for about 1h30 with some teasing, live mashups… speechless.

It is probably the most technical set I saw so far, if my memory is accurate.

It is funny though because after the first hour, Sam told me Mark Sherry seems to be a very good mixer by seeing his mix in the DJ booth but might not be the best mixer out there. He was right, it didn’t go too crazy yet, except for the mashup he did at Dreamland with the “Eat Sleep Eave Repeat” looping.. The mix started to be complex for the last 2 hours. We couldn’t really expect the techno that was coming.

So the answer everyone wants to know: Is it better than Mark Sherry’s first set at Circus? Difficult to answer. DJ set-wise, maybe, maybe more… It is really difficult to tell with the total absence of atmosphere of Circus’s main room, without mentioning the zombie crowd. It always influences your connection with the music.

The crowd was clearly not the best. They couldn’t hardly stand high BPMs. I think there was less than 50 people when Mark Sherry closed his set.

If anyone from Circus reads this review, please oh please hire a designer for the main room. It looks dead. Imagine if the look of the room could have kept 300 people on the dancefloor instead of leaving. I never had a great time in this room since Circus HD.

So that was my review for Mark Sherry at Circus. It is the best international DJ set in 2013 alongside John 00 Fleming at Quebec City, with Bryan Kearney at Private Planet just under in my personal tops.

With all this underground hypnotic techno from Mark Sherry’s after-hour 2nd part, I think he’s after something. He clearly is more and more curious about techno lately in a way not many used to, and I’m sure it’s going to influence him in both his DJ and producer styles. Maybe this new style of him will lead him to new Tech-Trance sounds.

Written by: Kevin