Ralph Lawson is a bit of a UK institution with a residency spanning sixteen (!) years at Back to Basics in Leeds, a successful record label in 2020 Vision and more recently, a founding role in electronic band 2020 Soundsystem.
Lawson’s goal on Fabric 33 was to “represent [himself], Leeds and Fabric” and the “really good new music” that is coming out of Britain. The mix remains on the lighter side of house the entire time, with techy, electro and disco elements thrown in for good measure.
At the most basic level, the ideal DJ mix in my humble opinion has an introduction, a middle and a conclusion. It can cleverly tell a story (a la Michael Mayer) or take you on a ride through peaks and valleys. Fabric 33 does neither of these. I get the feeling that Lawson is more concerned about showcasing his tunes du jour (to be fair if you owned a record label you would too) than about how the songs actually all work together. Fabric 33 starts off rather tamely with Vernon’s ‘Don’t Be Lonely,’ a pedestrian 4/4 disco house number that doesn’t exactly lay down much suspense or get you very hyped. Similarly the last track of the CD (‘Digitize’ by Random Factor) peters out without much fanfare before ending abruptly, almost as if the record finished before he had a chance to mix another one in.
Phonique’s remix of ‘Anymore’ by Badmouth, a vocal electro house number and the clear highlight of the mix, will give you a glimmer of hope that things are about to kick off, but, unfortunately, it’s all downhill from here. It’s almost as if the whole mix is one big middle section, never really building to anything or going anywhere. Just when you think its building up, the climax and drop never materializes (the mixing between ‘Pause,’ ‘Shogun,’ and ‘Radio’ is a prime example of this).
To his credit Lawson stays away from including any of the big tunes of the moment, instead introducing the listener to a selection of fresh sounds. Unfortunately the majority of the mix is fresh in the sense of original content only and many of the tunes sound dated (circa early 2000) and indistinct rather than timeless (Nick Chacona’s ‘The “Right” Wing’ being a good example).
The last part of the CD chugs along at a pedestrian pace, personified by the cheesy disco number ‘Hot Gloves,’ while ‘Advance’ by Justus Kohncke is about as hard hitting as a wet piece of bread.
I wanted this CD to grab me and deliver a Chuck Norris roundhouse kick to my face, but in the end it turned out to be about as threatening as a newborn baby panda bear.
Buy Ralph Lawson - Fabric 33 at
Tracklist: Ralph Lawson - Fabric 331. Vernon – Don’t Be Lonely (An2 Remix) - Polyphonics
2. 2020 Soundsystem – High (Llorca Remix) – 2020 Vision
3. Julian Sanza - Polyfunny – Heartbeat Revolutions
4. Dennis Ferrer - Transitions - Defected
5. Badmouth – Anymore (Phonique Remix) – Fresh Meat
6. Will Saul – Pause - Simple
7. Marcelli Giordano – Shogun (Serge Santiago Remix) – Players Paradise
8. Drum Cult - Radio (2020 Soundsystem Remix) – Dirt Crew
9. Marc Romboy – Jigsaw (John Tejada Remix) - Systematic
10. Nick Chacona – The Right Wing - SAW
11. Art of Tones – Praise – 2020 Vision
Brett Johnson ft. DJ Heather – Everything’s Electric - Classic
12. Joakim – Drum Trax (Beats) - Versatile
13. Greenskeepers – 15 Minutes (The Rapture Remix Dub) - Om
14. Swag – Hot Gloves (Bakazou Mix) - Battle
15. Justus Köhncke - Advance - Kompakt
16. Random Factor – Digitize (Emperor Machine Remix) – 2020 Vision