- Is it possible for a DJ to be too good? The mixing too smooth, the transitions too neat, each track a little too well-suited to its neightbour, the overall theme argued a little too forcefully? This is usually a concern restricted to Ableton users, trigger-happy turntablists or those especially fond of digital tidying, but this frustrating set by one of minimal's most well-heeled DJs comes as quite a surprise.
Live, many can attest to Steve Bug's abundant skills; he's been wooing the minimal masses for well over a decade, getting his break in Ibiza in 1991 before starting Pokerflat and later Dessous—his set at the Pokerflat warehouse party in London last year was one of the best I've heard. He's also known to be a stickler for key signatures, his sets unified both rhythmically and harmonically.
These are all positive qualities deserving of praise, and they're all adequately showcased on Fabric 37. The mixing is predictably impeccable, and the tracklist reads like a 2007 year-end poll. The result however is less than the sum of its parts. Indeed, it is Bug's very proficiency that is this disc's undoing. His panache at selecting similarly structured, similarly toned tunes, having tracks overlap for long periods whilst rapidly changing records, produces a restless fluid sludge from which it is difficult to discern outstanding individual motifs, let alone tracks. In straddling the border between (minimal) house and techno, he's lessened the impact of both. This is minimal for the cafe, or the shopping mall.
That said, there are moments here that are dazzling. The opening sequence is a great way to begin a set—from the Playhouse soul of Sunshine Jones' 'Anywhere you Are', through the cycling piano chords of Afrilounge's 'Lux Dementia', it's all light house skip, maracas, truncated diva gasp and pleasant expectancy. The neon bleeps of Anja Schneider's 'Belize' signal an explosive shift, and as Bug segues from Chloe's 'Love Love Love Yeah' mix into Mikael Staevostrand's 'Can You See Through My Eyes', these tracks seem made for each other. But this is all over in around five minutes, and from there things flatten out. The early air of cocktail house shimmy returns, albeit in darker, more menacing shades: Lee Curtis' Chicagoesque 'Over the Influence', Brendan Moeller's dub infused 'Saviour', a couple of fine Ryo Murakami tracks on Bug's Dessous; all pieces with bite, but somehow here drained of much of their impact. There are 22 tracks featured here, very few of which you'll remember.
The closing scene is again convincing, featuring a long take of Rejected's deliciously droll 'Lost' before closing with Gui.tar's 'Red Doggy', signalling end-of-the-night closure and hinting at a development that wasn't there. Aside from the brief detour sparked by 'Belize' there's little sense of risk or adventure, and it's likely Bug wanted it this way. As a minimal house soundtrack to your next dinner party Fabric 37 makes for delightful company, but reach for volumes 35 or 36 if you want an edgier, less predictable ride.
01 Sunshine Jones – Anywhere You Are – Nite Grooves
02 DJ Swap – Consequence - Smallville
03 Peace Division – In The Wall (It’s Voodoo) – Crosstown Rebels
04 Tom Pooks – Trouble (D’julz Remix) - Ovum
05 Afrilounge – Lux Dementia – Connaisseur Recordings
06 Ben Westbeech – Hang Around (Wahoo Main Mix) - Brownswood
07 Gene Hunt – Inspire (Abicah Soul Remix) – Moods and Grooves Records
08 Anja Schneider – Belize - Mobilee
09 Rework – Love Love Love Yeah (Chloe Remix) - Playhouse
10 Mikael Stavöstrand – Can You See Thru My Eyes - Spectral
11 Adultnapper – Juror No. 9 - Audiomatique
12 Lee Curtis – Over The Influence – Dumb-Unit
13 Steve Rachmad – Flow “Westpoint” - Sino
14 Mogdax – Kubik - Mezzotinto
15 Brendon Moeller – Saviour – Third Ear Recordings
16 Ryo Murakami – My Soul - Dessous
17 Matthias Tanzmann – Keep On – Moon Harbour
18 Phonique – Worked It Out feat. Ian Whitelaw and Meitz (Charles Webster’s First Remix) - Dessous
19 Echologist – Faith N.Y. - Mule
20 Ryo Murakami – Monument - Dessous
21 Rejected – Lost - Rejected
22 Gui.tar – Red Doggy – Punkt