- While it's tempting to draw parallels between this year's big success stories—Visionquest, Hot Natured and Crosstown Rebels—as Sam Louis did back in August, Fabric 61 is a pretty clear indication of where the collectives differ. Louis very reasonably linked them on the basis of their much discussed move towards house music that's "a bit slow(er), a bit sexy, a bit melodic." These descriptors certainly ring true for Visionquest, although as about a third of this mix illustrates, theirs is an intoxicating, journey-like strain of tech house, removed (to use a convenient example) from the kind of '80s dance party vibe that Jamie Jones of Hot Natured evoked on his Fabric mix, or (to use another convenient example) the delicate funk Maceo Plex of Crosstown Rebels proffered on his RA podcast.
Fabric 61's opening demonstrates this through a foggy, 120 BPM passage formed from music by Tin Man, STL and Soul Center. If they appear, synths gently nag rather than sing; basslines are dubby and under the constant cosh of a filter. If you're au fait with the Visionquest imprint's output this year, you'll know that the other main facet of their sound is what Seth Troxler (one quarter of the collective alongside Lee Curtiss, Ryan Crosson and Shaun Reeves) once called "underground pop." Dalliances with vocals and more complete melodic phrases occur frequently throughout Fabric 61—Aril Brikha's remix of Kollektiv Turmstrasse and the DJ T. version of Phreek Plus One's "Passion" being two fine examples—but are mostly underpinned by beats and bass for dancing. It's not until the mix's final stages that the kind of home listening material pushed by the label is explored unadulterated.
With these two distinct flavours framed in the context of a single mix, Fabric 61's primary plus point is the harmonious meeting between the two. The move into a four track decompression at the end feels natural and unhurried, and aside from the misstep of sequencing Franco Cinelli's "The Sound Of Violence" remix at a point (track #6) out of keeping with its mood (end of the night grandeur) nothing here feels superfluous or incoherent.
It is, however, worth mentioning the disc's style of mixing, as it's not always executed successfully. Tracks are, on the whole, allowed to merge for minutes at a time, with the hits and misses of this approach being exemplified around the mix's midpoint: The transition from Loosefingers' acidic "Winterflower" into the excellent "Forest Fires" by My Favourite Robot simply doesn't work; the mix out of the track into DVS1's "Polyphonic Love," while not harmonically compatible, gives the desired effect of a gear change.
With the mix being released in December, some may have hoped for a year-defining statement from one of the year's defining collectives. Fabric 61 doesn't represent this—and nor does it try to. Instead what we have is a well-balanced representation of four guys that are continuing to creatively flourish; and if you do insist on grouping them, one of the foremost mixes to come out of this recent fascination with slower house sounds.
01. Tin Man - Wasteland
02. STL - Portside Waves
03. Soul Center - Hal 2010
04. Seuil - In The Moon
05. Konrad Black - Doodimbouttogay
06. Cassius - The Sound Of Violence (Franco Cinelli Remix)
07. Terje Bakke - Ekaterinburg
08. Kollektiv Turmstrasse & Florian Schirmacher - Uneins (Aril Brikha Remix)
09. Catz â€˜n Dogz feat. Paul Randolph - I'm Free (Carl Craig Remix)
10. Loosefingers - Winterflower
11. My Favorite Robot - Forest Fires
12. DVS1 - Polyphonic Love
13. Green Velvet - Abduction
14. Aquarius Heaven feat. Dani Siciliano - Can't Buy Love
15. Tale Of Us & Footprintz - Tale/Foot Break
16. Footprintz - Heaven Felt Like Night
17. Wildcookie - Song With No Ending