- Three fabric lynchpins close the storied mix series.
- It was the end everyone expected, with a twist. While fabric looked externally for the final Fabriclive mix, enlisting the powerhouse duo of Kode9 & Burial, it did the opposite for fabric 100, calling on three figures whose lives have been intertwined with the London clubbing institution since the beginning: resident DJs Craig Richards and Terry Francis, and cofounder Keith Reilly. On paper, it must have felt right—who better to bring home the much-revered series than the club's most longstanding DJs and the man whose idea it was in the first place? Plus, this was the special bumper edition the fans deserved, presenting both the longest entry in the series (no other fabric CD has ever featured more than one mix from different artists) and a one-off insight into the musical mind of the vinyl-obsessed visionary behind the club. But, befitting as it may be, fabric 100 isn't one of the great entries. In fact, were it not for Richards, it might be one of the more forgettable.
In 1999, when Richards became a resident, the news was mostly met with blank looks; 19 years later, he's one of dance music's most respected DJs. He got there partly by being a tireless innovator, constantly searching out the freshest records in order to share them week-in-week-out with the fabric faithful. "I'm not sure people understand what an effect Craig has had on London clublife," the fabric booker Judy Griffith told Resident Advisor in 2009.
As fabric 100 shows, Richards' current obsession is the kind of zippy electro and techno popular with DJs like Binh and Nicolas Lutz. The mix, which features mostly modern tracks, makes a great case for seeking out new music, as if Richards were offering a gentle rebuttal to the scene's fixation with Discogs and mining the past. Everything about it is phenomenal, from the expert stitching and the relentless pace to the well-oiled conveyor belt of scintillating hooks, rhythms and basslines. There are no dud tracks and several mindblowing ones, such as Alphacom's "Journal Square," Reade Truth's "Where Has Love Gone" and the mix's finale, "Suck Seed," by Crème Organization's Orgue Electronique. The best of all, though, is by Richards himself, a razor-sharp bomb with trippy vocals that repeat the track's title over and over: "My Friend Is Losing His Mind." This cut, more than any other, transported me straight to fabric's Room One. Before I knew it, I was checking the listings to see when I could next hope to hear this music on that soundsystem—as powerful a testament as any to the mix's quality.
Francis's entry also skews towards newer music, though with less success. This might not come as a surprise to fabric fans. If Richards has made a career out of staying ahead of the curve, Francis has often lagged a step or two behind. That wasn't always the case—he was given the residency as the cofounder of the hugely influential party and label Wiggle—but these days he pushes a groovy four-to-the-floor sound that feels, at times, outdated. His mix reflects that, with too many polished kickdrums, tired basslines and vocals that make you squirm in your seat (Creep Show's "Safe And Sound"). Whenever he does settle into a nice rhythm, it's soon derailed by some jarring sound. Take the mix's best stretch, which starts at Audiojack's "Turya," passes through the excellent "No Ignorance (Part 1)" by Blue Wig and ends at Argy's 2005 minimal classic "Love Dose." By the end of that track he's on a roll, but then in comes "Dancer Dancer" by Kevin Yost, a flat roller punctuated by breathy cries of "dancer, dancer." The flow doesn't falter—Francis is too experienced a DJ for that—and yet suddenly it's as if all the air has been let out. Dips like that make the mix hard to like.
This leaves Reilly, the obvious curveball on fabric 100. Of the club's two founders, he's always been the music man, responsible for crucial early decisions such as signing Richards and Francis, championing drum & bass and installing the world-famous soundsystem. But he's never considered himself a DJ, despite having played the club a few times and having an enormous vinyl collection. Given his inexperience, you might excuse the succession of basic intro/outro transitions on fabric 100. Or the way it feels more like a collection of tracks than a cohesive mix. Harder to excuse, though, is the music itself, which ranges from the saccharine ("Really Love Ya" by SIOPIS) to the downright cheesy (Low Deep T's "Casablanca"). A couple cuts are good—both involving Eddie Richards, both more than a decade old—but overall it feels like an opportunity wasted, especially when you consider who fabric might have enlisted instead.
fabric 100 is imperfect and in large parts a disappointment, and yet still it's hard to shake the feeling that this was the right way for the series to bow out. 17 years and 100 releases later, the circle has been closed by the same people who opened it. In the volatile world of clubland, that sends out a powerful message, one of unity, loyalty and dedication. Musically, too, Richards' entry is a bold final statement, a mix potentially as timeless as the countless other standout mixes in the fabric vaults. Like so many of those, it too could one day provide the entry point for the next generation of clubbers. Or inspire a retired DJ to dust off their decks. Or simply prompt a die-hard fan to return to their manicured stack of silver tins, pick one out at random and revisit another golden moment in dance music history.
01. Monolake - Nmos
02. Alphacom - Journal Square
03. Solar X Brother Nebula - S.I.S. (Savile's Jetset Radio Remix)
04. Setaoc Mass - Flying Buttress
05. D. Ball - Transition
06. Larry McCormick - Ride Low
07. Simulant - New Machines
08. The Woodleigh Research Facility - The Question Oak
09. Rutherford - Pseudo Judo
10. Reedale Rise - Lucid Flow
11. Craig Richards - My Friend Is Losing His Mind
12. Fred Und Luna - Monotonikum
13. Nancy Noise - Azizi's Dance (Andrew Weatherall Remix 1)
14. Reade Truth - Where Has Love Gone
15. Simon Haydo - Obey?
16. DMX Krew - Bush Baby Bug Eyes
17. Detromental - Rewind
18. Mike Ash - The Fizz
19. Vectorvision vs Convextion - Zy Clone
20. Orgue Electronique - Suck Seed
01. Patrick Di Stefano & Luca Doobie - Get Through (Inxec Remix)
02. Jamie Fairley - Round 'n' Round
03. Jose Vizcaino - Vicious Vision
04. Joeski - Cross Over feat. Jesante
05. Audiojack - Turya
06. Gel Abril - Carpet Sneak
07. Mauri Fly - Red Tribal (Silvano Del Gado Remix)
08. Blue Wig - No Ignorance (Part 1)
09. Pure Science - The Way We Use To
10. Argy - Love Dose
11. Kevin Yost - Dancer Dancer
12. Andre Salmon - Where Is The Salmon
13. Francesco Robustelli - After Midnight
14. Jaded & James Petrou - Toni's Pain (INXEC's Morphine mashup)
15. Terry Francis - Wipeout
16. Tiefschwartz – Oberton
17. Terry Francis - Emotional Blackmail
18. Funtopia feat. Jimi Polo - Do You Wanna Know (Club Mix)
19. Creep Show - Safe And Sound
01. Vondelpark - California Analog Dream (Robag's Moppa Habax NB)
02. Alex Attias Presents Mustang - Finding Who We Are feat. Colonel Red (Quarion Dub)
03. SIOPIS - Really Love Ya
04. Taube - Belle La Vie
05. Low Deep T - Casablanca
06. Eddie Richards & Gideon Jackson - Biscuit Barrel Blues
07. Eddie Richards - Droids
08. Rancido - Devil's Den
09. Hanna Haïs feat. Sandra Nankoma - Mwala Wei'ka (Original Mix)
10. Hyenah - Tale Of The Dirt feat. Aquarius Heaven (Rampa Remix)
11. Kollektiv Turmstrasse - Ordinary (Mick Rubins Deep)