Rhadoo, Petre Inspirescu and Raresh, better known as RPR Soundsystem, have become stalwarts in electronic music since their arrival in the scene over ten years ago. As bookings ever increase, the nights they play as RPR soundsystem (back-to-back-to-back) are still rather rare, usually saved for festivals or clubs which showed faith in them as newcomers, such as Robert Johnson and Fabric.
Robert Johnson only announce their line-ups a month at a time, so when it was announced in mid-June that the trio would play on the last weekend of July, I had to jump at the somewhat spontaneous opportunity. After all, this was RPR at Robert Johnson!
To an unsuspecting club goer, walking into Robert Johnson doesn’t feel like walking into an institution of electronic music. But if you know how much musical history has been created in this small space of Offenbach, it feels like walking into a grand theatre.
Walking up the stairs to the club floor, the sound was unmistakable, it was distinctly Romanian. I expected the room to be full to the brim but when I walked in at 1am yet it was barely a third full. I thought I’d spend my time exploring the club whilst I got settled into the mammoth task ahead of me. Except, there isn’t much to explore at RJ. A capacity of 250 people, with an incredibly modest DJ booth, TV screens above supplying visuals and two doors either side leading to a balcony which overlooks a river, that’s Robert Johnson.
And yet if Robert Johnson’s decor was any different, it wouldn’t have the same impact. It’s not meant to wow you with showmanship, it’s meant to be subtle. The room is pitched black aside from a few lights and the aforementioned visual screens, it allows you to be truly immersed in the music.
For those who have seen RPR before, you know what’s happening by the third or fourth hour, those Romanians get pumping. Petre occupied the decks for longer periods of time during the ‘warm up’ but as the night progressed it was the two Rs, Raresh and Rhadoo who were dominating the decks.
One of my favourite things about seeing the trio is that when they play together, they seem to pack a completely different record bag to when they play individually. If you’ve seen either one in the few weeks prior, you might hear a few familar tracks, but most likely they’ve dug out completely new ones.
There were of course the staples, with the cosmic and blissful sounding (and also forthcoming) Sublee – Irealis which sounded far more booming on RJ’s Martin Audio soundsystem and the bleeps and claps resonated completely throughout your entire body.
As the sun rose and penetrated it’s way through doors there seemed to be a sense of bliss and tranquility consuming the atmosphere in Robert Johnson. I went to go for a quick breather outside and also to watch the sunrise and then I realised why RJ had been so often referred to as a ‘special club’.
It really is a special club, one that bottles up all the atmosphere and energy until 6am when it’s ready to burst and reach a pinnacle. That pinnacle felt it had been reached when Raresh dropped Slam’s rework of Larry Heard’s Transportation. The pulsating kick drums felt as if they were being absorbed into your body and the melodic bassline made it the perfect track for what was becoming early morning.
As early morning became regular morning, Petre seemed to take a backseat and let his friends play as Raresh and Rhadoo opted to play harder and faster, outside the realms of the former’s comfort zone. Perhaps my favourite moment of the night was George Morel’s intoxicating ‘Let’s Groove’ being blasted out. It was 8:45am and there couldn’t have been more than forty people left yet the wooden floor was whipped into an absolute frenzy.
The trio eventually finished up at 10am, to my somewhat disappointment. There were whispers they could go on for till past midday and maybe even afternoon. As people began clearing out, fans thanking them, I took one last look around, not knowing when I’d be back and I broke out into a wide smile. That same smile comes back whenever I think about that night.