Tuned In To Music

Reflections from a lifetime

Review: M.A.N.D.Y., Fabric 38

M.A.N.D.Y.’s  Fabric 38 is an intriguing mix.  It has quite a different sound from M.A.N.D.Y.’s Mix Collection for Renaissance and on first listen it didn’t really grab my attention.  There was something about it though.  It faded in and out of our listening cycle over many weeks until I decided I had to either shelve it or review it.  During a day or two of focused listening the strengths of Fabric 38 began to reveal themselves.

M.A.N.D.Y.’s Fabric 38 isn’t a straightforward House mix although it adheres pretty consistently to the typical House 4/4 equal-emphasis kick-driven format.  Throughout the mix M.A.N.D.Y. layer multiple polyrhythms over the kick which give the entire set more of a varied feel than a run-of-the-mill House mix.  As the set goes on M.A.N.D.Y. get more and more into synth lines and timbres that are atypical and the mix gets increasingly mysterious, deep and dark.  Strange sounds briefly appear and then disappear.  Ominous pads lurk in the background.  You’re on your way down the rabbit hole.

Fabric 38 may take some time and patience but it’s worth it.  As your familiarity increases, previously hidden nooks and crannies reveal themselves.  M.A.N.D.Y. have put together a mix that continues to entertain well after the newness has worn off.

“War Paint (Claude Vonstroke remix) poxyMUSIC Ft. Gina Mitchell

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07/17/2010 Posted by | CD reviews, music, music reviews | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: A-Track, Fabriclive.45

Okay, so I downloaded A-Trak’s Fabriclive.45 mix in WAV format.  Twenty-five tracks mashed up by A-Trak, looked like it could be pretty good.  Launched it in my music player and before I knew what was happening there was a party going on in my computer.  I tried to write this review while the mix was playing but the fucking letters kept jumping around the screen and making new words.  “We hear the bass and we say woah”, “BASS! (woah, that was Bootsy), “DO IT!”, “You know it’s gonna be alright – be alright.”  “Get down – unh”.  WTF??!!???  This is impossible.

Figured, fuck it, I’ll play a game.  Write the review later.  Had some of that recent DLC for Mass Effect 2 I hadn’t tried.  Check that out.  Loaded the game and there’s Shepard rolling with that blue-skinned alien chick.  This can’t be happening.  Well, Bioware’s cool right?  Maybe they got something goin’ with Fabric so you get this cool Easter Egg if you run the game and the mix at the same time.  Yeah, that’s gotta be it.

Heard that the Rise of the Godslayer expansion had turned Age of Conan from a disaster into an MMO worth playing so I thought I’d check that out.  You’ve got to be kidding me.  Conan?  Waving his hands in the air and shakin’ his ass like a fuck toy?  “I see you baby . . .”  Dude dances like an elephant and you don’t even want to think about him trying to do that LeBron robot thing.

Then some fool in the mix starts goin’ on about his dick.  Daniel Woodis doing “I’m the Ish”.  The mix drops dead like a corpse fell out of an airplane and landed in the middle of the dancefloor.  Splat.    Conan looks embarrassed and tears a Pictish warrior apart with his bare hands.  By Crom!   “I’m the Ish” killed the mix.  wtf was A-Trak thinking?

But wait.  The computer don’t like it either and the words stopped jumping around the screen.  I can get the review written.  Yeah, okay, I’ll describe what just happened and then list the good tracks.  Okay, the mix starts out with . . . oh, shit.  Here it comes again.  Alexis Latrobe’s “Aurora”.  There go the words on the screen.  “Get Down”.

I open up the panel on my computer and my motherboard is a motherfucker.  All those little gizmos jumping around waving their little wires.  “Do it!”

Fuck this review shit.  You want a party?  Check it out.

Opening segment from Fabriclive.45 which begins with A-Trak’s version of his own “Say Whoa”.  Compare with DJ Spinna’s remix on A-Trak’s mix CD Infinity+1


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06/28/2010 Posted by | CD reviews, music, music reviews | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Review: Various Artists, Elevator Music

Elevator Music is a collection of music from various artists that is intended to illustrate the range and variety of music that is either being influenced by dubstep or that maybe dubstep is morphing into.  It is a very interesting collection that has more – much more – than its fair share of winners.

Casual listeners can be forgiven for thinking dubstep is no more than the current hot blonde of the dance music scene.  Another month, another arcane genre.  While dance music tends to spawn genres and subgenres like a politician spawns lies, dubstep is looking more and more like the real deal.  Dubstep tends to emphasize sub bass frequencies coupled with irregular rhythms and, at least in the beginning, the use of samples.  It is largely instrumental.  Listeners interested in an introduction might be interested in the two disc 5 Years of Hyperdub collection from one of the labels that led the way in releasing dubstep.  The approach has proven remarkably adaptable and more and more often is being integrated with other types of dance music.

Elevator Music provides an excellent window into the exciting things electronic music producers and DJs are doing with the musical ideas and production techniques of dubstep.  The most familiar artist to me on Elevator Music is Martyn based on his recent mix Fabric 49 mix which I very much enjoyed.  His track “Friedrichstrasse” is the only one to appear on both Elevator Music and Fabric 49.  While the other musicians on Elevator Music aren’t as familiar to me now, they will be in future because  pretty much every track on the album is interesting.  The CD opens with Hot City’s “If That’s How I Feel” which immediately breaks the mold by incorporating vocals (albeit as rhythmic elements).  It’s a terrific track that sets up high expectations which are then fulfilled by the rest of the set.  The second track is Xxxy’s “Sing With Us” which repeats the word “listen” as a commanding refrain over a rhythm track that both stumbles and has a deep forward-moving groove.  The demand that you listen is perfect for Elevator Music as every track has something to tell you.

Elevator Music is released by Fabric Records who are calling it Volume 1.  I have no idea what they may have planned for Volume 2 but based on what we have here, it’s something to look forward to.  Elevator Music is a very good collection of cutting edge music.

Untold’s “Bad Girls”  – the “ooh!” knocks me out every time I hear it

06/24/2010 Posted by | CD reviews, music, music reviews | , , | Leave a comment

Review: Ewan Pearson, Fabric 35

I very much enjoyed Ewan Pearson’s mix for the Kompakt label, We Are Proud of Our Choices, so I looked for other mix CDs by Pearson and found Fabric 35.  Good move.  Pearson creates masterful mixes and Fabric 35 is a terrific CD.

There isn’t any part of putting a mix together that Pearson isn’t good at.  His segues from one track to the next are seamless even when the tracks are wildly disparate.  I bought Fabric 35 as a single track download (in wav format) from Juno Downloads and in places his transitions are so smooth I’m not quite sure where one track ends and the next begins.  Pearson also rarely lets interest flag with tracks that repeat the same few bars over and over again or sequential tracks that are highly similar in timbre or rhythmic structure.

A major part of what makes Fabric 35 so enjoyable are the tracks Pearson has chosen.  With the single exception of  100Hz’s “Trustlove” which hits the dancefloor DOA like a corpse dropped from the rafters in midset (at least for me, others like this track) every track on Fabric 35 is interesting and fits in the flow.  Many of the tracks feature dynamite vocals beginning with set opener Jahcoozi’s Robert Johnson’s 6Am X-Ray Italo Rework of “Ali McBills”, and moving through the Prince inspired Konrad Black Mix of Snax’ “Honeymoon’s Over” and Tobi Neumann’s Swinging Remix of Johannes Heil’s “All for One” and finally ending up with the astonishing “Berghain” from Aril Brikha.

Reigning over all of Fabric 35‘s many strengths is the groove.  It’s low, dark and relentless.  Ewan Pearson is a master and Fabric 35 is a masterclass in how to put together a mix.  Recommended.

05/28/2010 Posted by | CD reviews, music, music reviews | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Review: Radio Slave, Fabric 48

Now this is what I’m talkin’ about.  Radio Slave is Matt Edwards, a prolific producer of an astonishingly wide variety of electronic music.  In addition to Radio Slave he is also know as Rekid, and Matthew E, as well as being one half of the duos Quiet Village (with Joel Martin) and Sea Devils (with Thomas Gandey).  Fabric 48 is his entry in fabric’s long-running studio mix series and it’s a killer.

The set opens quietly enough with the Michael Cleis Deeper Remix of Baeka’s “Right At It”.  It then quickly turns to the deep tribal rhythms that define the set with Radio Slave’s “DDB”.  The next track up is again Radio Slave with “I Don’t Need a Cure For This” which is about as good a characterization of Fabric 48 as anything I could come up with.  “I Don’t Need a Cure For This” is the first of four tracks that is one of the better sequences I’ve heard in a mix in a long time.

For the most part Fabric 48 is jungle music.  Not jungle as in drum and bass electronic music-related jungle but rain forest-type jungle.  Maybe tribal would be a better word.  Forward-driving propulsive and loping rhythms keep the set in a solid groove that is very hard to resist.  The set lets down a bit with one of those laid-back spoken raps by the chick with the sultry voice things that some producers of electronic music seem to love with Nina Kraviz’ “Pain in the Ass” but it gets it’s groove back when Kraviz loses the rap and gets to the rhythm late in the track.  If you focus on a segment o fFabric 48 it can come across as repetitious and boring.  However, if you relax your attention a bit the music can carry you away and once that happens it’s hard to stop playing it.

To my eye the CD art is particularly ugly but the idea is to listen to it, not look at it.  Fabric 48 may hurt the eyes but it’s a treat for the ears and those parts of the body that have a tendency to move in sinuous and uncontrollable ways when in the presence of a mighty groove.  If this sounds good to you, check Fabric 48 out.

Segment from Fabric 48

05/20/2010 Posted by | CD reviews, music, music reviews | , , , , | 1 Comment

Review: Martyn, fabric 50

Fabric is a club that opened in London in 1999.  In 2001 they began a series of monthly CD mix releases featuring well-known DJs that alternate between the fabric and Fabriclive headings.  At the time Martyn’s studio mix was released there had been 49 discs in each of the two series and the feeling had arisen in some corners that the Fabric releases had gone stale.  They needed to shake it up.

They did.  Martyn is a Dutch DJ who currently lives and works out of the Washington DC area (Yikes! he lives somewhere near me!)  who is know for being both the high quality and innovative originality of his mixes.  He gave Fabric just what they needed; fabric 50 is a knockout.

One of the more appealing aspects of fabric 50 is that Martyn isn’t afraid to mix different types of music into his set.  He smoothly mixes dubstep, techno, umpteen kinds of house and a number of other micro-niches with names that only have meaning for the truly obsessed into a thoroughly entertaining set.  The variety of music on display makes fabric 50 a terrific CD for listeners who may know little or nothing about dance music to sample a fairly wide selection of many of the types of club music that are currently in the air.  Find what you like, follow it up, and open up a whole new world of goodness.

That bit about “smoothly” points to another great strength of fabric 50.  Martyn really know how to put music together.  Tracks flow into each other seamlessly most of the time.  Styles, rhythms, timbres, instrumentation consistently vary and flow so the mix never falls into the monotonous rut that can easily bedevil dance music.

The illustration on the CD packaging shows a dancer being held in the palm of a big hand.  Nice image for this set; you’re in good hands with Martyn.  If Fabric can reinvigorate their two series with sets of this quality the coming months are going to be very good ones indeed for those listeners who enjoy electronic dance music.

04/23/2010 Posted by | CD reviews, music, music reviews | , , , , , | 1 Comment