ndrew Weatherall’s Fabric 19 is, you guessed it, the 19th in London superclub Fabric’s highly successful, rapidly expanding collection of commercially available DJ mixes. Fabric has been churning these out now for about three years or so, with a new one typically hitting the streets about every two months. In addition to the usual channels, those without taste of their own can also subscribe to the series via the Fabric website. I have no idea how successful this campaign is, as, in today’s digital marketplace, the notion of buying CDs, let alone subscribing to them, becomes increasingly remote. Nevertheless, the concept itself reeks of completism, a desire to collect and own them all, regardless of content or quality. Subscription is rarely, if ever, a sound methodology for selecting music, and the Fabric series is no exception. For every hit, there’s a miss to be found in the catalogue.
Weatherall, of course, needs no introduction. In addition to his countless productions over the last two decades, he’s released a number of DJ mixes, ranging in style from Deep House to Dub, Electro to Techno and much more besides. While a fan of some of his production work, particularly the deeper-than-deep aquatics of Two Lone Swordsman’s Stay Down album, I’ve yet to hear a mix of his which I return to with anything more than mild desperation, a fate already shared by this, his latest.
This set was apparently inspired by one Weatherall played at Fabric recently in support of his, and partner Keith Tenniswood’s, new live sound. As such, it opens up with a pair of electro tracks. The former, Sexual Harassment’s “I Need A Freak”, is a poor place to start, packing little punch despite its best attempts. The latter’s much better, however, and, at over twenty years old, still more than capable of rocking the rock steady crew. It’s like a hybrid of Man Parrish and Prince protégés The Time, clapping, jacking and popping its way through the disco. Both tracks talk the talk for sure, but those of you interested in one that can actually walk the walk too should keep an ear out for Aaron Carl’s bass driven, homoerotic “Down”.
After this somewhat lopsided start, nothing of much interest comes along until five tracks in when Weatherall drops Alexkid’s “Don’t Hide It”. It’s classic Acid House, grooving along on one 303 line, building and climaxing on another. The track’s real strength, however, lies in Lisette Alea’s strong, sexy vocals. No surprise to find out it’s French then.
Other highlights, though, are few and not even that high. The acid vibe is maintained for a while, until it gives over to jittery techno, peaking with Steve Bug’s “That Kid” and its textbook transition into Metope’s “Second Skin”. Weatherall’s mixing throughout the set is undoubtedly smooth and technically flawless, but far too generic and unimaginative to leave any kind of lasting impression. The following track, John Tejadas’s mix of Miwon’s “Brother Mole” starts off promisingly enough, presumably with the John Tejada bit, but as soon as the sickeningly sweet, sugar coated melody and vocal “kick” in, that’s it, enough—next! There’s a lesson to be learned here: singing in a childlike way about furry little friends who live in the ground must at all costs and with extreme prejudice remain within the realm of either a) children or b) The Aphex Twin. Anyone else (and I’m looking in your direction here City Centre Offices) should grow, and wise, up.
Weatherall, as is the want of many a DJ, saves the best for last. In this case, however, it’s the best reason there is not to ever even consider letting this mix anywhere near you or those you love. Not content with already having subjected us to The Emperor Machine’s Joy Division influenced “Bloody Hell,” Weatherall then tags on to the end of his Two Lone Swordsmen cover of Villalobos’ “Dexter” the universal travesty that is Technova’s incredibly misguided attempt at covering Joy Division’s “Atmosphere.” While firmly of the belief that almost any such attempt is futile and predestined to end in unbearable pain for all within earshot, this is worse, much worse, than imagined. Shame on all involved.
And with that it’s over, mercifully. It’s no fun, there’s very little music to get excited about and ultimately very little, if any, reason to add it to your collection. There are hundreds and thousands of DJs, musicians and labels out there promoting, pushing and breathing new life into the DJ mix format. Look to them, not this, when you’re in the mood.
Reviewed by: Simon Walsh
Reviewed on: 2005-01-05