- Jay Haze's credentials are inarguable. The man behind the Tuning Spork, Contexterrior and Future Dub labels has a long list of productions under his own name, a thriving musical alter-ego as Fuckpony and collaborations with the likes of Ricardo Villalobos and Michal Ho to his credit. Catering to all and compromising for none, Haze's productions and DJ sets seem to strike a rare middle ground: Just enough melodic intricacy for the heads, while maintaining an inherent groove perfect for the casual listener. And, what's more, he's a stand-up guy that's donating all the earnings from Fabric 47 to charity. All that said, Jay Haze's contribution to the Fabric series isn't a great one.
It stands to reason that the best DJ mixes—the ones that keep you coming back time and again—are the ones that find a groove and nail it. They are coherent yet adventurous. They, to use that god-awful DJ cliche, "take you on a journey." The essential problem with Fabric 47 is that it's like three separate journeys in one. Things begin, appropriately enough, with a sample of Fuckpony's "Lady Judy," a tribute to Fabric's promotions manager, and slides into Haze's downtempo jazzy "Awakening." With Little Dirrty Ghetto Bastard, Mike Dunn's smut-house anthem "Freaky MF," and Alex Celler's reggae-tinged rallying cry "Trapped In Dub," Haze builds an effortless and infectious jacking house groove, but it all starts to go sideways with the introduction of the woozy, druggy "Mellow Dee."
A deep and murky production from Haze and Ricardo Villalobos, it chugs along innocently on the surface, but has a subtly warped melody and wonky distorted horns. It's a track that has a time and a place, but in this context it leaves you feeling a bit grubby and unsettled. It's like stepping out fresh through your front door at 10 PM straight into the steamy, packed 5 AM fug of Fabric's main room: too much, too soon.
The mix then snaps back into pure house clarity, as if "Mellow Dee" never happened. Rescued by the uplifting and piano-looped "I Can't Forget" by Haze & Dexter, and Chicago Wasted Youth's "Mars Or Bust," Haze seems to be piecing it back together when The Last Poets' "When the Revolution Comes" brings the momentum to another awkward halt. Don't get me wrong; I'm down with conscious early '70s spoken-word poetry... just not served with my 4/4 please. Especially not when I'm supposed to believe that such a poignant and politically charged piece of music will segue seamlessly into truly unremarkable minimal techno. (It doesn't.)
It never really recovers from there. Haze rounds out the final act with some charmless minimal and tech-house. There are some notable exceptions, namely Dirty Bee's "Work for Me," and its throbbing post-punk bassline, and the sparkling electronica melody of Fuckpony's "Burning." But by mix's end, you're left with the feeling you get at Fabric—or any other club—when you know you've stayed a bit too long. You're tired, your interest has waned and the music starts to sound like background noise.
In listening to Fabric 47, you get the sense that the mix is a three hour set condensed into 70 minutes. As a result, Haze sounds like he's struggling to fit in all the things that he wants. Individually, some of these tracks are brilliant, but Fabric 47 smacks of trying to achieve too much.
02. Jay Haze - Awakening
03. Lil Dirrty Ghetto Bastard - An Hour To Fly
04. Mike Dunn Presents MR. 69 - Phreaky MF (Mike Dunn's Original Phreak Mixx)
05. Lump feat. Lerato - Confusion
06. Catrat feat. Yah Meek - Freedom (Jay Haze Main Mix)
07. Alex Celler - Trapped In Dub
08. Miss Fitz - Dementia
09. Jay Haze feat. Ricardo Villalobos - Mellow Dee
10. DIY - Pimp My Saw
11. Jay Haze feat. D:exter - I Can't Forget (Fuckpony Discotech Dub)
12. Chicago Wasted Youth - Mars Or Bust
13. The Last Poets - When The Revolution Comes / Pheek - Soundscape
14. Michael Ho - Ain't Going Out Like That
15. Dirty Bee - Work For Me
16. Johnny Fiasco - Conduction
17. Hugo - Pimpin' Ain't Easy
18. Ms. Minelli - Ancient Blessing
19. Fuckpony - Burning
20. Rockey - Something to Say