Consequently, Fabric 38 is being received, like it or not, with overbearing expectations (especially after Ellen Allien, Ewan Pearson, Ricardo Villallobos and Steve Bug all offered remarkable takes on the series). But contrary to the still stellar At the Controls, a mix that ebbed and flowed gracefully from one visionary cut to another while letting each of them shine often in their entirety, rare are the tracks (only three, in fact) on Fabric 38 that overstay their 4-minute welcome: there is, consequently, a sense of understated urgency at work here that you would have never associated with M.A.N.D.Y. before. Yet, the mix’s technical seamlessness is what strikes the listener at first, the way the delicate chimes of Guillaume & The Coutu Dumonts’s ‘Mederico’ gracefully blend into the deeper shades of house on the Crowdpleaser remix of Quarion’s ‘Karusu’, which then naturally turns into Gui Boratto’s hypnotizing ‘Tipologia’ being an exemplary case in point. Surprisingly for the duo, then, there are only very few immediate and attention-grabbing instances (Audion’s remix of Dubfire’s ‘I Feel Speed’, the quirky vocals of Lopazz’s ‘2 Fast 4 U’, the mandatory DJ T. and Booka Shade cuts): this slightly more self-effacing approach to mixing is thus denoting a definite shift in their overall approach to self-representation.
See, bar a pointless intro, Fabric 38’s very first and very last tracks are saying a lot about how M.A.N.D.Y. are trying to portray themselves musically nowadays. Mix opener ‘Bananas to the Beat’, a 1980 goofy and quirky proto-electro number by Swiss oddballs Yello, is the kind of track that would have sat easily on At the Controls, but on here, it rapidly is submerged by the tech-y clicks of Minz’s ‘Darkslide’, as if M.A.N.D.Y. wanted to make sure they were getting those early electro leanings out of the way. Same thing can be said about album closer ‘Don’t Stop’, one of the duo’s most well-known productions from their early career: again, it is played here as a mere snippet lasting no more than 30 seconds, which only shows that even though M.A.N.D.Y. are not willing to, err, stop yet, we’re definitely not dealing with the band interested in turning Sugababes or Galleon tracks into huge electro-house anthems anymore.
Rumors have it anyway that M.A.N.D.Y. rented a cottage (!) in the Icelandic countryside (!!) and brought with them a bunch of live instruments (!!!) hoping to somehow put something to tape over there this year (?!?!). If this crazy-ass idea successfully materializes, then it might just signify (hopefully momentarily) the end of M.A.N.D.Y. as we have learned to know and love them. Therefore, their recent 12 Remixes for 11 Great Artists album and this very mixed compilation for Fabric could be seen as their farewell to the luminous underground German house sound they virtually forged all by themselves over the past five years before they turn into a Deutsch version of Cobblestone Jazz or something. If that atrocious, nightmare-like scenario was to actually happen, Fabric 38 might then be more worthy of our cherishing and praise than it could have initially appeared. And that is an error in judgment I am not willing to make just yet.