Fabriclive 73

The UK’s electronic music scene has steadily shot off on tangents all of its own; it’s one of the more divisive subjects about which anybody can have an opinion. Entire movements spring up and disappear overnight, the level of knowledge assumed in audiences is often way beyond the pale, and even the slightest aesthetic shift by an artist that would seem of negligible importance to the layman can hastily launch the itchy typing fingers of the opinionated hardcore listener legions. As a focal point, the parallel Fabric and Fabriclive series have long served as both barometers and entry points for club music’s restless self-re-evaluation. The 73rd Fabriclive is as such a typically ephemeral glance at the present, appropriately handing the reins to Hessle Audio co-founder, Pangaea.

The narratives that define Kevin McAuley (Pangaea), Hessle Audio, and the current state of UK techno are by now well spun yarns. A) Of the three founders of Hessle Audio, he’s the quietest. B) Hessle Audio are at the forefront of the scene. C) UK techno is at the crest of a long-forming creative wave. Yet they have little effect on the experience of listening to Fabriclive 73, which is the very model of a seamless, almost flawlessly assembled techno mix. No track is highlighted in particular and their very division – though ostensibly in line with the introduction and disappearance of the source material – is of little importance as Fabriclive 73 segues seamlessly from theme to theme. It’s 77 minutes of nonstop synthetic rhythmic escape, certainly characterised by Pangaea’s contemporary selection, yet by no means defined by it. McAuley ticks the necessary box of danceability with an oversized indelible marker, electing for consistently unfurling forward motion on the omnipresent 4/4 instead of acceleration to and away from dramatic peaks, troughs and those massive drops.

The set opens with Pangaea’s own until now unreleased ‘Recreational Slumming’, offering walk on for the DJ before the affair shifts up a gear and hits terminal velocity. Building on a twinkling Blade Runner arpeggio and smoky vocal stutterings, ‘Recreational Slumming’ is for the most part little more than a hushed murky synth line and a head spinning beat Pangaea pieces together brick by brick before our very ears. ‘Recreational Slumming’ melts into Lee Gamble’s ‘Plos 97s’, ultimately navigating us through the latter’s vaporous abstraction and out the other side into the kick-heavy velocity of the titled aptly ‘Momentum’ by Reeko. Pangaea never lets up from here on out, keeping beats in the foreground and an atmospheric universe of synthetic detail in the background, a trait that’s broadly come to define much 21s century dance music. Techno producers from around the world make up most of the selection, with UK producers in a slim majority with turns from Pev, Hodge and naturally Pearson Sound. For one brief moment though, Pangaea does in fact craft techno from non-techno, with the retrofuturist Kosmische ambience of Imaginary Softwoods (aka John Elliot of Emeralds, Spectrum Spools and countless other projects) lining the mix. It’s however readily converted from space age menu music to a mid-rave epiphany with the simple addition of a banging beat, perhaps highlighting a shared branch on modern electronic music’s very own language tree.

A handful of moments do very nearly outstay their welcome. The piercing oscillating synth at the foreground of Alex Falk’s ‘PTR’ repeats immovably, threatening to decelerate the mix just before its final passages, hanging there like a fly that just can’t be swatted. However, the handful of jarring moments serves to add a few necessary lifts, in the form of subtle gear shifting histrionics. Just at the very second a proverbial trip to the bar or breather beckons, Pangaea folds into the mix alluring snatches of the next track, in the case of ‘PTR’ morphing imminent tedium into a blistering syncopated upsurge leading up to the mix’s culmination. It’s easy to read into Fabriclive 73 as this as much or little as you want. To the uninitiated, or long since absent, it’s a diary entry detailing the fluid sound of modern techno club mixes at the start of 2014. For the deep-entrenched, 2013 was perhaps the stalest year in recent memory the DJ mix, with only a mere handful of notable releases. Pangaea’s Fabriclive is the much needed and triumphant reboot the format’s needed, istilling something of club music’s ongoing renaissance into a seamless, pounding missive. Every act is one to watch and discover, but at this point none deserve to be followed as closely as Pangaea himself.

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