- George Ovens thinks about drum & bass differently than most. His emphasis on space, atmospherics and dynamics pulls his music slightly to the left of the scene. A Dub Phizix track still bangs, sure, but it might borrow flourishes from other genres, or move like a Japanese motorcycle rather than a jet engine. You won't find much in his discography that fits the steel-and-glass sound palette of modern drum & bass—Ovens' tracks are lightweight and agile, qualities he picked up from studying classic Photek records. He reinforces that formula with ideas from footwork and jungle, feeding into the latter genre's ongoing revival without resorting to mimicry. He's become one of the most exciting names in drum & bass because of it, and he nimbly weaves between subgenres. That confidence and finesse is the signature of Fabriclive 84, which stands as one of the best drum & bass installments in the series.
On his mix CD, Ovens taps into a funky and fluid style of drum & bass that usually gets ignored in favour of bread-and-butter acts. At its best, the music borrows jungle's ripping liquid energy without replicating its core sound, invigorating the old stuff paired with sleek aerodynamics. Chimpo's "Atlanta" is a prime example: his slippery rhythm delivers drum & bass tempo in silky R&B aesthetics.
Ovens' mixing style is nearly as important as his selections. He might throw around records—43 in total—like a possessed Jeff Mills, but his mixing style is measured and precise. He's more concerned with layering than slamming into the next drop. The first time the drums hit, on brooding opener "Break The Chains," he keeps them simmering to lay down a foundation for the rest of the mix to cruise on. The way he carefully piles on tunes from Skeptical, Ulterior Motive, Subtension (and plenty of his own) creates the dazzling effect of interlocking puzzle pieces. It's as if Ovens can see grooves and slots in these tunes that no one else can.
All of that lends Fabriclive 84 a unique momentum. Instead of shoving you forward, Ovens grabs your hand and pulls you along so that you can't resist. It's a hard-hitting mix, but never in the one-note, brick-wall way of, say, Ed Rush & Optical. Drum patterns switch up almost every minute, and Ovens jumps from track to track with the dizzying energy of a platformer video game. (Sometimes he even encounters power-ups, like Fixate's rave throwbacks or the occasional thrashing Amen break.) This is a drum & bass mix for people who don't usually like drum & bass, though it's also a perfect CD for the genre diehards. Many of those dyed-in-the-wool fans would already point to Ovens as one of uptempo music's most valuable players anyway. Fabriclive 84 just confirms that for the rest of the dance music world.
01. Dub Phizix & DRS - Break The Chains
02. Dub Phizix - Who Are You?
03. Ulterior Motive feat. James Sunderland - Muted
04. Subtension & Minor Rain - Sklep
05. Dub Phizix & Skeptical - Contact
06. Was A Be - WLTB
07. Dub Phizix - Dummeh + Chunky - Ooh Ahh (Acapella)
08. Chimpo - Backslang
09. RIOT - Zouk In The Souk
10. Basement Jaxx - Buffalo (Dub Phizix Remix)
11. Dub Phizix & Xtrah - Bill Roach
12. LEVELZ - LVL 09
13. Skeptical - Tundra
14. Dub Phizix - Dun Dem
15. Subtension - Fairlady
16. Dub Phizix - Gaana
17. RIOT - Bounce
18. Was A Be - Champion Sound
19. Fixate - Tweeker
20. Dub Phizix - Bounce
21. Cadenza & Nasher - Gyal Town
22. Fixate - Sueno
23. Chimpo - Atlanta
24. Fixate - Tic Tac + Ward 21 - Doberman (Acapella)
25. Dub Phizix - Bugs
26. Dub Phizix & Chimpo - Ossibisa
27. Dub Phizix & Strategy - Jus' A Nuvver Divvy
28. Chimpo - Restless Leg Syndrome
29. Dub Phizix - Smokey Hot Biscuits
30. The Rum Baba - Stop Talk
31. Skittles - Mr Song
32. Fixate - Throwback Therapy
33. Sam Binga - 8Barr
34. Dub Phizix - Hooligan Plague + Strategy - Marka (FABRICLIVE VIP Acapella)
35. DRS feat. Enei - Count To Ten (VIP)
36. The Rum Baba - Meatallic
37. Dub Phizix feat. Fox - Never Been
38. Mikal & RIOT - Control Of People
39. Dub Phizix - Rainy City Music
40. Matthew David Scott - What’s Next?