- It's no coincidence that Mathew Jonson's fabric 84 hit the shops on Friday, October 16th, the weekend of the London club's 16th anniversary. The Canadian had played live at the same time the year before, delivering a 90-minute set so good that the team behind the club's coveted mix series decided to release it. (Fun fact: In line with the fabric birthday's fancy dress policy, Jonson performed wearing a full Japanese bunny suit.) Playing late on Sunday evening, he was slotted between Ben UFO and Ricardo Villalobos in Room One, just as the marathon bash was approaching the 24-hour mark. I wasn't there, but many who were have said it was the best part of the celebration.
This sets fabric 84 apart from the rest of the series. It's the only edition to have been recorded live in the club with an audience. Also, most of the other installments are studio mixes that try to balance capturing the experience of a fabric performance with something people will want to put on at home or in the car. Jonson's mix has already proven itself on the dance floor, so the question is whether it translates when taken out of the sweaty, sleep-deprived context. And for the most part, the answer is yes.
Jonson would've had no idea at the time that his set would end up as a CD, but that doesn't detract from the thought and effort put into its preparation. Most of the work for a live show happens before you hit the stage, and Jonson has said he goes the extra mile for fabric gigs. That comes across just through the tracklist, a heady blend of classics, special edits, remixes and unreleased material. Like Omar-S, Shackleton and Ricardo Villalobos before him, Jonson's mix consists entirely of his own productions, lending it a unique and unmistakable quality.
Confident that Ben UFO would sign off with a flurry of hard-hitting cuts, Jonson played "techno material first rather than play the funky tracks." Cobblestone Jazz's "Northern Lights" is the perfect opener: tough but measured, and with enough emotion packed into those trademark shimmers to signal a new direction. The funk creeps in on the next track, "Dayz," before the intense, trippy one-two punch of "Learning To Fly" and "Marionette" ramps up the energy several notches. Every time a new snare hits or a fresh melody bubbles to the surface, it's hard not to imagine Room One absolutely going off.
From there, it's easy to see why Jonson proved so popular with a horde of battered, leg-weary ravers. The mix has everything you want at that point in a party: transcendental synth lines ("In Search Of A New Planet With Oxygen"), gritty hooks ("Decompression") and most importantly after 20-plus hours of straight 4/4s, a few slamming breakbeats ("Imagination"). For the closing segment, Jonson shows off the more recent side of his oeuvre. It starts with the sultry vocals and UK garage-y feel of his remix of Subb-an's "Say No More" and ends with a techy take on Inner City's "Good Life." If the mix has a weak point, it's the five tracks in between. They're not bad or limp in any way, it's just that they don't quite deliver or stick in the memory like those in the first two-thirds.
As well as being a fantastic mix, fabric 84 marks a significant return to form for the acclaimed house and techno series. Editions 80 to 83—handled by Joseph Capriati, Matt Tolfrey, Art Department and Joris Voorn—have all fallen short of fabric's standards. Whether you were lucky enough to have witnessed Jonson's set first-hand, or, like me, have come to it 12 months later, the CD's effect is the same: it makes you wish you were in Room One, dancing to it live.
01. Cobblestone Jazz - Northern Lights
02. Mathew Jonson - Dayz
03. Mathew Jonson - Learning To Fly
04. Mathew Jonson - Marionette (The Beginning)
05. Units And Measurements feat. Deadbeat - Octopus Brains
06. Tobias. - If (Mathew Jonson & The Mole Remix)
07. Mathew Jonson - In Search of a New Planet With Oxygen
08. Mathew Jonson - The World Will Come Around
09. Mathew Jonson - Automaton
10. Mathew Jonson - Decompression (Mathew Jonson Acid Cut)
11. Mathew Jonson - Decompression (Mathew Jonson Force Remix)
12. Mathew Jonson - Ghosts In The A.I. / Decompression (Mathew Jonson Mash Up)
13. Mathew Jonson - Imagination
14. Subb-an feat. S.Y.F. - Say No More (Mathew Jonson Remix)
15. Mathew Jonson - Cause Baby It Just Feels Right
16. Mathew Jonson - That Girl Can Dance
17. Mathew Jonson - That 101 Is Mine
18. Mathew Jonson - Feels Like Liquid
19. Mathew Jonson - Body In Motion
20. Kevin Saunderson feat. Inner City - Good Life (Mathew Jonson’s Acid Mix)