Last year, Ninja Tune celebrated their tenth anniversary with a full-scale tour of the labels' biggest acts. This year, having apparently no intention to stop the festivities, they continue partying all around the continent with their regular Xen club night. A rather more exclusive affair it might be (only 250 tickets are available, whereas last years' stint effortlessly filled the 2000-capacity downstairs venue of the Ancienne Belgique), but that doesn't mean the Ninja people take it any less seriously.

Tonight being essentially a showcase for sublabels N-Tone and Big Dada, who better to kick off proceedings than Riz Maslen, AKA Neotropic, N-Tone's most prolific artiste? She's on the brink of releasing an album that features Nick McCabe on guitar and cello, but tonight she's only here to DJ. During the first half of her eclectic (The Specials, Radiohead, Loads of skewed hip hop beats) if somewhat clumsy set, no-one dances. During the second half, the chatter of the crowd grows louder and louder.

It's something Doseone has to battle, too. At the end of his inspired MCing performance he disappointedly mutters "There's this rule: don't talk while I'm talking. It didn't work tonight, but that's alright. I'm a lover, not a fighter." Judging from his set, however, he's neither fighter nor lover, but an unadulterated joker. He dangerously veers between being a queer Chilly Gonzales and the thinking man's Eminem. The only constant in his truly eccentric set is Doseone's raw talent. At the beginning of May, his band cLOUDDEAD release their eponymous album. It sounds like Boards of Canada, Isaac Hayes and Blackalicious thrown in a gloriously psychedelic blender. It's ace. Buy it.

The nearly impossible task to follow up Doseone's madness is left to the Hexstatic crew. They may look like your bank clerk uncle, but boy, do they rock. Heavy beats and squelching bass are enhanced with fab ninja flick 'n video game visuals to the point that you start seeing whole new dimensions. After that, Herbaliser DJ Ollie Teeba and MC Juice Alleem deliver the final blow with a throbbing old-skool set.


Mush Records