I tend to think of Oneman as part of an imaginary UK trifecta along with Ben UFO and Jackmaster. All three are "purely" DJs, with no productions to their names to help boost their reputations, they're all regulars on London former pirate station Rinse FM and they're all at the forefront of underground UK dance music. They're the DJs with the hottest dubs and the newest tracks. Oneman also shares another quality with Jackmaster: he's a quintessential "party" DJ, throwing in classic tunes and mainstream nods willy nilly, and indeed he's known to throw a dose of hip-hop into his sets. Jackmaster used that reputation to craft a brilliant slice of exuberance with his Fabriclive, and now it's Oneman's turn—and surprisingly enough, Fabriclive 64 contains neither those hip-hop interpolations nor a hearty serving of exclusive dubs.
The former could likely be put down to licensing issues; I'm going to wager that a mainstream rap track costs a little more than a Hessle Audio release. The latter issue is a little more perplexing, with Oneman admitting that part of the mix is "a throwback to 2010." The tracklist matches. If a mix CD is meant for posterity, then "new and exclusive" shouldn't be an issue, but it's hard to escape that this is all a little too familiar, with a large number of tracks contemporaneous to his Rinse mix CD that same year. I'm not sure if it's a matter of freshness or just coincidence, but this Fabriclive is strongest at its newest. The way the groove melts down into the empty stutter of Pearson Sound's "Untitled" before solidifying there for three minutes, or the blistering midsection that climaxes with one of 2012's undeniable anthems in "Ellipsis," are the disc's most captivating moments.
Those moments of creative synthesis are Fabriclive 64's saving grace—Oneman might not be a flashy jock, but he's a unique one. He has a way of pulling off the unconventional every single time, whether it's long, extended blends that sound like they shouldn't work or a hard pan from 2010 to 1998. The latter's the key—even if the disc doesn't have all that hip-hop fun we expect from the man, it has plenty of vintage garage. The constant push-and-pull between the modern and the retro is its most intriguing dimension, especially in the final throes of the mix where Joy Orbison and Boddika duel with Tuff Jam and Steve Gurley. The dips into old garage territory are the mix's palate cleansers, little bits of saccharine joy to whet appetites for the more abstract material that comes between.
After all's said and done, it's not as if Fabriclive 64 is completely devoid of interesting new material; Boddika's "Soul What" gets an attractive VIP makeover, as does Teeth's unforgettable "Shawty," and we get glimpses of promising newcomers like Thefft. But chances are if you've been paying attention to UK music over the past few years, Fabriclive 64 is akin to a ride through the countryside—it's scenic and fun in theory, but after the first few times it starts to lose character. A smooth and appreciable ride nonetheless, it could have definitely used some twists and turns to liven it up.
Tracklist: Oneman - Fabriclive 64 01. Mark Pritchard - ?
02. Fis-T - Night Hunter
03. Grievous Angel - Move Down Low VIP
04. SBTRKT - 2020
05. Groove Connektion 2 - Club Lonely (Dem 2 Lonely Vocal Remix)
06. Mosca - Gold Bricks, I See You
07. Lando Kal - Further
08. Doubleheart - Salsa
09. Pearson Sound - Untitled
10. MikeQ - The Ha Dub Rewerk'd
11. Nu-Birth - Anytime
12. Bok Bok & Tom Trago - Vector
13. Joy Orbison - The Shrew Would Have Cushioned The Blow
14. Distance - Feel Me
15. Boddika - Soul What VIP
16. Basement Jaxx - Red Alert (Steve Gurley Mix)
17. Girl Unit - Wut (Claude Vonstroke's Butt Naked Mix)
18. Joy Orbison - Ellipsis [Hinge Finger]
19. Ce Ce Peniston - Somebody Else's Guy (Tuff Jam's Classic Garage)
20. Teeth - Shawty VIP
21. Ed Case - Something In Your Eyes (Underground Solution Mix)
22. Thefft - Switch
23. Youngstar - Pulse Y Remix
24. Burial - Etched Headplate
Other Fabric Records reviews