- Recorded in the pandemic, this quietly triumphant mix highlights the invigorating power of dance music in all its forms.
- fabric Presents Danilo Plessow comes almost exactly ten years after Motor City Drum Ensemble released his first mix CD, the era-defining DJ-Kicks from 2011. That mix found the German producer at an all-time high, following the success of his Raw Cuts series with a set that showcased his skilled and thoughtful DJ style. Armed with a knack for digging out diamonds in the rough, he mixed jazz, disco, house and techno with flair, making him the epitome of what would become known as a "selector." (He later handled the first instalment in Dekmantel's compilation series of the same name.)
Plessow is now one of the festival circuit's most beloved names, known for extended sets of blissful (and often rare) disco bangers. But that's not the side we get here. Like his DJ-Kicks, fabric Presents reveals a softer, almost restrained touch, inspired (at least in part) by the pandemic experience. Recorded deep into lockdown, the mix feels like a heartfelt reminder of the simple pleasures of dance music, of putting records together and seeing what happens. This idea is reinforced by a few buried recordings of Plessow's friends talking about what music means to them. Listening to the mix is a bit like listening to someone go through their record collection and fall in love with old favourites all over again, rediscovering the power of music after a few months away.
Where Plessow's DJ-Kicks expertly threaded the jazz, Afrobeat, IDM and disco influences he drew from to make the Raw Cuts series, fabric Presents zeroes in on more contemporary dance music, with a vibrant and diverse cast of characters from Rhythm & Sound to Ciel to Dallas electro hero $tinkworx. It seems unassuming at first, but there are plenty of wow moments. Take the way Rhythm & Sound's "Music A Fe Rule Part 1" becomes a canvas for the tracks surrounding it to noodle over. Or the way the distinctive trills of electro first comes in with Proxyan's "Sky Walkers" floating over Plessow's own sublime "Nightfall," whose guest musicians highlight the knack for musicality that defines everything he does.
Electro weaves in and out of the mix between oldies from Cabaret Voltaire and The Order's 1992 early Italian techno oddity "E.W.R. (Sex)." Sure, mixing tracks from different decades is nothing new, but the way Plessow keeps the electro heartbeat pumping through even these older tracks, coming back to that faithful broken beat, creates its own timeline. It's a different way to see not only the genre but the tracks it complements. (His own electro contribution, under the new alias Basic-Variation, suggests he could've made a whole alternate career out of that stuff, too.)
Plessow isn't just a great DJ because of the rare tracks he selects or his eerily perfect blends, but also because of the narratives he builds. (Anyone who has seen him DJ in the right setting can attest to this.) fabric Presents feels like a personal history told out of chronological order, featuring plenty of old, sometimes sought-after, chestnuts—Logue's proto-UK garage "Keep Me From Pain" is a major (and expensive) highlight—with newer cuts from artists like Sansibar and Powder that fit right in. Plessow has an ear not only for beat and key matching, but how different styles, aesthetics and mixdowns fit together.
The mix flows beautifully, rising from the ambient murmurs of Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith into jazzy house and electro, touching on other oddities like Carl Craig's "Mix 2" of Jonny L's "This Time," or Moonstarr's ultra-sexy 2004 hip-hop joint "Detriot." The mix ends with a rare and funky cut from John Kongos, "I'm Dreaming (Any Moment I May Wake Up Screaming)," whose mix of ebullient rhythms and paranoid lyrics could easily sum up any dance music fan's pandemic, especially the darker periods when it seemed like a return to something resembling normal life might never come.
The recordings of people speaking about music aren't as present as fabric made them out to be, but Plessow tells the story with the tracks themselves. The cuts by Rhythm & Sound and The Order feature refrains like "If music is the food of love / Then give me excess of it." It's music about music, which goes for Plessow's style of DJing, too. He revels in the ecstasy of it all, the pure joy of the vibrations themselves, and you can hear it best in extended sessions like the almost nine-hour back-to-back with Jeremy Underground he shared with RA in 2016.
fabric Presents Danilo Plessow conveys this in a subtler form, the kind of mix that moves laterally rather than up, up and up. It's classy, reverent and deliberate, truly a product of its time. It sounds more like an artist comfortable at home, sipping a glass of wine between puffs of a cigarette, rather than someone trying to whip up a festival crowd. There's a quiet, almost content confidence to it that'll make you want to revisit it over and over, one of those rare mixes that makes an album-sized statement.
02. Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith - Understanding Body Messages [Ghostly International]
03. SKUAS - Traversée [Aroc]
04. Rhythm & Sound ft. Paul St. Hilaire - Music A Fe Rule Part 1 [Rhythm & Sound]
05. Scientist - In Orbit [X-Ray Records]
06. Recloose ft Dwele – Can’t Take It (Herbert’s Some Dumb Dub) [Planet E]
07. Moogroove - Dark Room [Essential Media Group]
08. Jeroen Vink - Waka Wakah [Reliant]
09. Powder - Random Ladder with 40 [Born Free Records]
10. Danilo Plessow ft. Francesco Geminiani & Peter Schlamb - Nightfall [fabric Records]
11. PROXYAN - Sky Walkers
12. Basic-Variation - Decay/Sustain/Release
13. Ciel - Raindance [Peach Discs]
14. Hypnobeat - Can God Rewind? (part 2) [Hypnobeat]
15. Cabaret Voltaire - Taxi Mutant [Plastex]
16. THE ORDER - E.W.R. (Sex) [Male Records]
17. The Other People Place – It’s Your Love [Warp Records]
18. $tinkworx - Mnemosyne [Delsin Records]
19. Roy Davis Jr - Broken Machines [Clone Jack For Dazes]
20. Johnny L - This Time (Carl Craig Mix 2) [XL Recordings]
21. Logue - Keep Me From Pain [White Label]
22. A² – Rebirth [Groovepressure]
23. Sansibar - Absence Of Being [Émotsiya]
24. Family Unit - Freak (House Mix) [C.R.E.A.M. Records]
25. Iridium - Ill America [Lowdown Records]
26. Jean-Claude Petit - Stones Of Law [Fauves-Puma Productions]
27. Moonstarr - Detriot [Sonar Kollektiv]
28. John Kongos - I'm Dreaming (Any Moment I May Wake Up Screaming) [Milestone Records]