Album Review: Fabric 64 - Guy Gerber

Guy Gerber eschews expectations and takes Fabric 64 as an opportunity to make a compact, groove-based single artist album. He isn't the first to make his entry into the Fabric CD a single artists affair though - both Ricardo Villalobos and Omar S have produced Fabric albums that only consist of their own music. They are both, in fact, two of my favourite entries to the long-running series.

Gerber has declared Fabric 64 his 'break-up' album. Created in a short, two month period (as Fabric releases apparently have to be) shortly after the end of a relationship it is a snapshot of his emotional state during that period and it has a greater degree of focus than an album created over a longer period of time would be capable of. This is a generous album both emotionally and purely in terms of the music offered, for much of the 16 movements and 72-minutes contained could have been made into a 'proper' album, with all the associated press and attention that usually brings.

It also works well as a mix album though. This may not be a peak-of-the-night DJ set but Fabric 64 is no slouch either, taught electronic kicks propel the album onwards even when the music is introspective and forlorn, as on 'Shady Triangle'. Melancholic music can create a deep, emotional well to drown in but Gerber sidesteps this to create a soundtrack that trips and stumbles between sadness, resignation and apprehensive hope at different turns throughout its course.

The whole album locks together like a jigsaw to make a tight, continuous groove so whilst there are momentary highlights it also forms a cinematic whole. This just could be the progressive house answer to the Drive soundtrack and all that which the movie has touched - the music scrubbed and sanded down in an attempt to remove every touch of humanity, yet the emotion shines through as strong as ever.

It is there in the melodies that punch through the dark synths on 'A Blade Through My Piano' and again on the building opening track 'Store-House Consciousness'. And the vocals and wet synth of the Clarian North featuring 'Running Through The Night' betray nights spent with nowhere to go and no-one to see.

It is on the Deniz Kurtel collaboration that closes this album, 'Just Wanna See You Happy', that Gerber finds (and makes) his peace and yet it still feels like a conflicted moment - not marked out with the same tears that track much of the album but hardly at ease either. Fabric 69 doesn't just use the mix album to create a single artist album - Gerber has used it to make a concept album too (and a good one at that).

It is an album which says a lot about its maker. Put it on a pair of headphones and ride across the city, shutting out your surroundings and it just might say something about you too.

Fabric 64 is released on 28 June, available to pre-order from Amazon.co.uk on CD and MP3 [affiliate links].

Album Review: Fabric 59 - Jamie Jones

Jamie Jones' album Don't You Remember The Future was reviewed on BlackPlastic.co.uk two years ago and it felt a bit like drinking Diet Coke when we'd rather go all out and fill our gut with The Real Thing. It's an accusation you could level at a fair number of contemporary artists but it's a fair one - who wants to settle for 'not quite as good as...'?

Jones' Fabric album is a bit of a surprise. Firstly because it isn't the fairly minimal tech I've come to expect from artists associated with Crosstown Rebels, the label Jamie calls home. But even more surprising is that fact that it is the most easy-going, celebratory Fabric albums in ages. But this isn't a thinking person's mix - the track listing is pretty obvious - but it's a great collection of disco and house cuts to soundtrack a party to.

There is a mixture of newer and older records on Fabric 59 but Jamie clearly isn't afraid to be obvious. There was a time when finding a new mix album without Felix Da Housecat on it would be more difficult than with. Despite that Jones drops 'Madame Hollywood', from Felix's defining Kittens and Thee Glitz LP, immediately before plunging into the reverb heavy 'Body Shiver' by Waifs & Strays. Thankfully it has been long enough since Felix mania that it just feels great to hear it again. Similarly Metronomy's mix Sebastien Tellier's 'La Ritournelle, shows up in the mix early on.

Fabric 59 is at its best in the closing third. Crazy P's 'Open For Service' is bonkers disco that feels every bit as classic as it aims to, with the most glamorously over the top chorus I've heard in ages. Holy Ghost's mix of 'Goblin City' by Panthers is the show stealer though. It's another track that has been around for an age but it never seems to have quite as much recognition as it deserves. If you haven't heard it you need to and it is here, at eight-minutes long, in pretty much full form. It melds house and disco like champagne and liquid gold, the inevitable guitar solo peak and subsequent break being one of the best things to feature on any Fabric album.

The pace is kept up through to the end. On Oppenheimer Analysis' 'The Devil's Dancers' Jones drops a track that harks back to times when the future sounded like the future rather than the past (just don't tell anyone it's only six years old). Soho808's 'Get Up Disco' is exactly as it says - a gorgeous loose rhythm and sparkling melody - and the stark 'Fear of Numbers' by Footprintz rounds things out.

Fabric 59 is almost in danger of being undermined - Jamie Jones has played it so obviously that it almost veers into parody, yet the final third of the album is so gorgeous I can't help but celebrate it.

BP x

Fabric 59 mixed by Jamie Jones is out now, available from Amazon.co.uk on CD and MP3 [affiliate links].

Live: London Electronic presents Nicolas Jaar Live at Fabric

Nicolas Jaar's debut album Space Is Only Noise continues to capture the imagine in a way no other album has been able to match so far this year (yes, it is early days)... There is something about the variety on display - one moment it is throwing obtuse lyrics at you in a monotone voice reminiscent of something the Merrit might use on a Magnetic Fields track, the next it's turned into freeform jazz.

Jaar is playing live in London on Wednesday 30 March and it should be a little bit special. Resident Advisor voted Jaar's as the second best live set last year and his focus on atmospherics rather than dancing should make the show unlike pretty much anything else that has graced the venue - particularly as this is a live set, not a DJ set.

London Electronic is focused on taking electronic music away from the weekend and the DJ booth, giving artists the opportunity to play live on centre stage. They will apparently be running events irregularly throughout the year so look out for them.

Tickets cost £12.50 and can be bought from Resident Advisor.

BP x

Album Review: Fabric 52 - various mixed by Optimo (Espacio)

Fabric 52 delivers. Optimo have long been heralded as innovators and legends and their mix albums have always been good. But good isn't always enough.

This is better. From the angry Soft Cell-esque 'Lady Shave' Fabric 52 feels like it falls through the door without so much as a glance in your direction. A drunken adolescence of a record, it is quite happy being self-obsessed and arrogantly unaware of your thoughts or feelings. It sounds like it would go on playing itself even if you tried to stop it.

Optimo have made a thrilling, wobbly, bubbling, acid-washed, squelchy set full of reverb and trouble and doubt. Whilst previous Optimo efforts may have been distracted and deliberately eclectic (How To Kill The DJ Part Two, anyone?) Fabric 52 proves they can work a groove.

This is an album that progresses through several themes and styles but knits things together closely enough that the joins aren't even visible. Even the anthemic 'Don't Call' from Desire is disguised beneath bleeps, rhythmic stabs and shouts - letting the track ride into town on Oni Ayhun's 'OAR003-B' is a stroke of genius and successfully transforms the track. It's one of those rare moments where a mix between a couple of tracks makes something completely new and manages to improve on the original. It's really that good.

Fabric 52 really feels like an important album. Sometimes mix albums are able to point to the future far better than an album from one individual act can. The dark, spiralling acid trip of Optimo's set feels like just such an article. As on the tripped out mish-mash of Nakion's 'Heartbit' and Xex's 'Heartbeat' that closes the album, this is a fantastic collaboration between the past and the future.

BP x

Fabric 52 is out now, available from Amazon.co.uk on CD and MP3 [affiliate links].

Album Review: Fabric 51 - Various mixed by DJ T

Perhaps ironic given his pseudonym but out of the heavy hitters within the Get Physical stable DJ T seems to have been the least prolific within the medium of the mix CD. Both Booka Shade and M.A.N.D.Y. have released mixes in the past (in the latter's case seemingly at the expense of ever getting an album out) but this is, to BlackPlastic's knowledge, DJ T's first.

Even more surprising, given DJ T's tendancy for producing club tracks rather than the introspective albums of some of his label mates (Bronnt Industries Kapital or Booka Shade and particularly their The Sun and The Neon Light album) Fabric 51 is surprisingly deep. Refreshingly so.

It is an album that is much slower and thoughtful than BlackPlastic would have anticipated. Michael J Collins eases the listener in with the minimal and atmospheric 'I Just Wanna Be Your Disco Bitch' and with that the pacing is set - nice and slow - for what follows. And what follows is pretty fabulous. The Salax Peep Show Remix of 'A Million Secrets' by Stuffa sounds like some whining indie boys taken straight from the cover of NME yet rapidly thrust into a dubby, emotive minimal workout - and shockingly it works.

This slow, twisted vibe runs throughout the rest of Fabric 51 to create something that really feels different. Danton Eeprom's 'Give Me Pain' sounds like Metronomy meets Hot Chip in a race to the cool indie kid dance floor and the kick, when it hits, is pure joy. And the level of experimental liberalism never fails to land well - even the bohemian 'Jesus Was A B-Boy' from Ben Mono featuring Jemeni hits with well aimed humour. Hell - BlackPlastic recently said that we never wanted to hear DJ Mujava's 'Township Funk' again and yet DJ T even makes us take that back for the Crazy P mix, applied here, is a thing of melancholic joy.

DJ T has undeniably managed to exceed expectations here. Whilst he may be not have the catalogue of mix albums of M.A.N.D.Y. he has just delivered a mix level with some of their best and the finest Fabric album in a good few months.

BP x

Fabric 51 is released on Monday - order now from Amazon.co.uk on CD or MP3 [affiliate links].