- Calibre is a unique case. He's become one of the biggest producers in drum & bass off the back of subtlety and style, not speed demon power. It's not like he hasn't had his ragers—his junglist moments are up there with the best of 'em—but what people love about Dominick Martin are his classical-inflected moments, full of piano and strings. He possesses an unusual sensibility for delicate refrains, with tracks that sparkle like steel-and-glass structures. They tend to stick out on compilations and mixes. And though he's had some legendary singles, I've rarely found his ambitious artist albums satisfying. Fabriclive 68, his first official mix and one which leans heavily on his own material, acts as a showcase for his latter-day productions. It's much more pleasing than any of his recent studio collections.
Fabriclive 68 isn't an album's worth of new material as so many have done in the past; it's more like a retrospective of the finest moments in Calibre's late career. His close followers might be disappointed in the lack of new material, but there's something exciting about hearing him thread his own tracks together. The mix ends up being a perfect primer for the inexperienced. It'll suck you in with its seductive sound design and then keep you there with its steady but never overbearing momentum. The tempo sits comfortably at 170 BPM, driving itself with the smooth cruise and slick surfaces of a Detroit techno mix. Brief drop-offs like dBridge's anxious "Inner Disbelief" are offset by careful builds (Marcus Intalex's stomping "Emergency (Dub)") and gorgeous passages, namely the string of remixes of artists like Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs and Zero T, which all slot together to make one gleaming whole.
As the mix powers to an end with its most aggressive cuts from Genotype and Calibre's own "Fire & Water," a resonant piano rings out like a siren call before drowning everything in sweetly-perfumed ambience. "Student Music" is a rather deep cut taken from a Commercial Suicide compilation last year, which one might take to be a low-rent cut in the Calibre catalogue. But with such a stately melody and that zero-gravity breakdown, it turns out to be a major-league stunner, in part because of how perfectly it hits in this mix. That one of its key moments could be a forgotten, years-old B-side only proves how vital Martin's consistency is, a matter of brilliance instead of mere formula. And like those songs he constantly peddles out, Fabriclive 68 isn't always an edge-of-your seat ride, but sometimes the scenic route is worth it.
01. Calibre - Intro
02. DRS feat. Calibre - Keep The Faith
03. Calibre - Clipper Man
04. DJ Marky & S.P.Y. - Yellow Shoes (Calibre Remix)
05. Bo Saris - SheÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s On Fire (Calibre Remix)
06. Marcus Intalex - Emergency (Dub)
07. Random Movement - Down Somehow
08. Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs - Garden (Calibre Remix)
09. Calibre - Simple Things
10. SpectraSoul feat. Tamara Blessa - Away With Me (Calibre Remix)
11. Zero T feat. Steo - Refusal (Calibre Mix)
12. Lynx & Hellrazor - Passing Time
13. Calibre - Notting Hill
14. dBridge - Inner Disbelief
15. Calibre - Hummer
16. Kodo - The Jackal (dBridge Remix)
17. Calibre - Fire & Water
18. Genotype - Justice Over Law
19. Calibre - Blazin
20. Calibre - Student Music
21. Calibre - Outro