- For a while, Jonny White and Kenny Glasgow were on top of the game. "Without You" scored them one of the biggest house music hits in recent memory, and helped them lead Crosstown Rebels to world domination circa 2010. But like most artists who establish a formula, Art Department slumped into diminishing returns: uninspired DJ sets and a disappointing follow-up LP started their decline. Then, a few months ago, Glasgow announced his departure from Art Department, leaving White to carry on as a solo act. fabric 82 is White's first move since taking responsibility for the project. On the surface, it looks like a reboot, digging through sounds less obvious than the usual Crosstown Rebels and No. 19 Music fare.
The tracklist is surprising, to say the least. Previous Art Department mix CDs featured the likes of Fuckpony, Jamie Jones and Deniz Kurtel; here, we get underground newcomers like Doubt, Borrowed Identity and NGLY, plus dusty house favorites DJ Qu and Fred P (who appears twice). As if to hammer the point home, the hiss of Basic Channel's "Mutism" bookends fabric82—a flashing sign that this mix is meant to be a serious statement, despite Art Departments associations with druggy party music.
As transparent as the move may be, fabric 82 is a fine mix on its own terms, and retains a few Art Department hallmarks. We already knew White had an ear for throbbing basslines, and they form the core of this CD, starting with the deep heartbeat of Frank & Tony's "Villa Seurat." From there, fabric 82 coasts through a strong opening section, which includes a killer Mr. G cut and works up a froth going into Efdemin's earwormy remix of "Kinda Kickin" by DJ Boom. It's a seamless build, familiar from Art Department's days as a premier tech house act.
White's mixing is, as you'd expect, plain and patient. There are some particularly nice moments that allow the best tracks to shine without interrupting the mix's steady flow. Fred P's knotty remix of Brooks Mosher's "Get Ready" is gradually overtaken by the wobbly whooshes of Scott Groove's "Decimal 2.0"—the boundary between the two collapses entirely to make a simple but satisfying blend. The other Fred P appearance, a remix of Art Department, floats nicely into NGLY's dreamy "Service Cost," before Jonathan Lee slams things back into high gear on "Dimensions."
Classy selections aside, little of fabric 82 is inventive. New wrinkles can be found in the quality and imagination of the music itself, but otherwise, it's all put together with the same low-slung style that Art Department established long ago. The result is a mix that doesn't work as a reboot so much as a re-examination. It's the sound of a long-running dance act working to get itself back on track.
01. Basic Channel - Mutism
02. Frank & Tony - Villa Seurat
03. Mr G - Hip Flexer
04. Doubt - Worse For The Wear
05. Borrowed Identity feat. Mechanical Soul Brother - Ruhephase In D-Moll
06. DJ Boom - Kinda Kickin' (Efdemin Remix)
07. Brooks Mosher - Get Ready (Fred P. Reshape)
08. Scott Grooves & Kataconda - Decimal 2.0
09. Art Department feat. Seth Troxler - Cruel Intentions (Fred P. Reshape)
10. NGLY - Service Cost
11. Jonathan Lee - Dimensions
12. Herbert - Deeper
13. JTC - Valley Road (We Are 1) (DJ Qu Remix)
14. Nitejams - Untitled (NJ01 - B1)
15. Rick Wade - Wired
16. James Priestley & Marco Antonio - Speed
17. Basic Channel - Mutism