he opening, say, two minutes of Carl Craig’s Fabric 25 mix are as impressive as anything I’ve heard this year, along the lines of the first time I laid ears on Roll Deep’s “The Avenue” or Three 6 Mafia’s “Stay Fly.” Those opening 2:00 consist of Craig laying Ying Yang Twins’ “Wait”—yes, I said Ying Yang Twins—atop the Caya Dub of his own “Angel.” It’s recontextualization on a higher level, a/k/a on some other shit, and it’s stunning (and, of course, works, too). Thus begins the finest DJ mix album of 2005, something very special.
Craig, it should go without saying, is a man among men. He worked with Derrick May’s Rhythim Is Rhythim early on (helping produce a remix of the epochal “Strings of Life”), has made some awesome techno of his own under aliases such as Psyche, was a major influence on drum’n’bass with his jazzy work as Innerzone Orchestra (particularly for the “Bug in the Bassbin” single)… and I could keep going. A history of Carl Craig is, in many ways, a history of the past two decades of dance/electronic music. Fabric 25 exemplifies it all quite nicely.
Kerri Chandler’s sexy, chunky tech-house track “Bar A Thym” segues into the Phlash Edit of Just One’s “Love2love,” a much more minimalist, clearly Detroit-influenced track. With Craig behind the turntables, however, the mix is smooth as anything. He dips into Afro-house with Scott Grooves’ “The Journey” and Africanism’s “Imbalaye” (highlife come alive!), before diving into some classic-sounding house with Blaze and Barbara Tucker’s “Most Precious Love” (love those disco strings—is the Love Unlimited Orchestra in the house?). Then it all gets stripped down again with a track such as Rayon’s “The Panther.” Craig uses the Rubber Re-Edit of “The Panther,” which is all crossfader love, all the time and a brilliant dancefloor track.
Which brings up one of Fabric 25’s greatest assets: as opposed to so many bedroom mixes, Craig’s here is one which stands up as finely at the club or afterwards (or before, or not at all for that matter). His track selection certainly should get plenty of the credit—I mean, something like D’Malicious’ “Alive” will give you “Good Life” flashbacks, yes, but is just different enough to make your brainstem stir, recognizing what a new gem it is. More than just the tracks included, however, Fabric 25 ultimately rises above the clouds for the ways in which Craig uses his records to convey emotion(s), to take the listener on a journey, as all great DJs do. Few are greater than Carl Craig, proven again by the simple gorgeousness of Fabric 25. Bow down.
DECEMBER 12 - DECEMBER 18, 2005