Friction - Fabriclive 70 Ed Keeley is one of the most important figures in drum & bass, though much of his influence is behind the scenes. His Shogun Audio label is a respected institution that's stridently underground but not afraid to flirt with the genre's stadium-ready contingent. As a producer, his tracks are on the big-room side, and he knows how to DJ festival-style, working in crowd-pleasers alongside more challenging moments. His Fabriclive mix fits this mold, and also captures the ethos of the London club's Friday nights: raucous and clever all at once.
Opening with Optiv & BTK and swerving through heavy-hitters from Enei, Nymfo and Technimatic all in the first ten tracks, Fabriclive 70 hurtles right into the fray without much in the way of build-up. Through barrages of spiky drums, Keeley's technical skills quickly become apparent—though he mixes as fast and hard as any other drum & bass DJ, he has an unusually smooth way of blending tracks. The mix is structured as a series of pummeling passages interspersed with more pop-friendly highlights, like Al's "You Can Dream." The refrains of these tracks tend to linger, creating accessible anchoring points between more functional moments.
Never afraid to take a left turn, Keeley stops dead for Alix Perez's "Annie's Song," an orchestral halftime stepper that ignites into the slamming S.P.Y. remix of the same track halfway through. This triggers Fabriclive 70's even more aggressive second half, a tour-de-force through drum & bass's sleek and deadly side. With plenty of selections from standout producers Rockwell and Icicle (highlighted by some rhythmic cartwheels on the latter's excellent "Minimal Funk VIP"), it burns itself out with a red-hot double header from Phace & Misanthrop and Noisia. For other DJs, ending with hard-edged techstep like this could be seen as a concession to the lowest common denominator, something genre purists wouldn't touch. But that juxtaposition has always been part of Friction's genius, the same impulse that drives his DJing—and one that makes Fabriclive 70 so deep and dynamic.