- "Sandwell District is dead." That's the message that sits at the top of the techno collective's Tumblr page. It's typically ominous, and maddeningly ambiguous. If they are dead, they've had quite a life. For a newer generation of fans, Sandwell District are techno deities. It's not hard to see why. Their music was vibrant in spite of its total blackness: the fluidity of Function and the alienating darkwave of Regis and Silent Servant came together to make something sleek, even sexy. Their fabric mix comes after the shuttering of their label, and vague threats that Sandwell District would soon end altogether. It plays like an overview of what they've done for techno in their rise to the top; they came to conquer, and now they're on the throne.
fabric 69 isn't packed with exclusives or new material. In fact, its tracklist reads like a best-of for techno in the past year. Execution is emphasized over selection. Painstakingly compiled and fastidiously edited by Function with help from Regis, it recalls the intricate quilts Richie Hawtin wove in the late '90s. Right out of the gate, the mix sprints through nine tracks with little discernible change. It's not until Mary Velo's thundering "Detune" that we get a proper chord progression.
"Detune" is the first of many fundamental pivot points for fabric 69, which settles every so often on a major theme before carefully flowing into the next. These anchors are obvious selections for the techno astute—the drawl of Carl Craig's "Darkness," the hornets' nest of Untold's "Motion The Dance," the bubbly frenzy of "Mark Ernestus Meets BBC"—but they aren't exactly the epitome of the Sandwell sound. Rather, they provide the mix's only novel elements and help to fill in the negative space left by all the surgical splicing.
If you're a Sandwell District fan, fabric 69 isn't going to blow your head off. You've heard these guys mix these kind of tunes together before. But you've never heard them do a mix as careful or considered as this one. In the album's press materials, Function claimed he was "encapsulating an era and putting it to rest." If Sandwell District really are dead, then fabric 69 is their epitaph.
01. Silent Servant - A Path Eternal
02. Function - Voiceprint (Loop/Edit)
03. VCMG - Spock (Regis Remix) (Loop/Edit)
04. Boyd Rice / Frank Tovey - Extraction 7
05. Raime - Exist In The Repeat Of Practice
06. Ike Yard - Loss (Regis Version)
07. Vatican Shadow - Church Of All Images (Regis Version)
08. Fiedel - Andreas (Bonus Beats)
09. Cub - CU2 (UST Funk Mix)
10. Mary Velo - Detune
11. JPLS - Basis
12. Rrose - Wedge
13. O - "Syvays"
14. Rrose - Wedge
15. Function - Modifier
16. Carl Craig - Darkness
17. Markus Suckut - Hunt
18. Samuel Kerridge - Waiting For Love Part 1
19. Untold - Motion The Dance
20. Surgeon - As You Breathe Here Now
21. Mark Ernestus - Mark Ernestus Meets BBC
22. Plastikman - Plasticine
23. Trevino - Uptight
24. VCMG - Spock (Regis Remix)
25. Planetary Assault Systems - Flat Tire
26. Factory Floor - 16-2-16-9-20-1-14-9-7
27. James Ruskin - Into A Circle
28. SS/S - Sicario de Dios: Siglo 2
29. Laurent Garnier - At Night
30. Function - Voiceprint (Reprise)