It wasn't until I remembered where John Tejada comes from that I could finally figure out what had grabbed me about this mix. Of course—he was born in Austria and has lived in Los Angeles since he was eight. As hard and crisp and comfortably contoured as the 20 tracks he's selected for his Fabric mix are—eight are from Tejada's Palette label—when he puts them together, they don't feel entirely European or Detroit-y even when individually they do. Fabric 44 has that locked-grid momentum central to what is enjoyable about techno, but even in those moments when the focus goes fuzzy and the bleeps blend closer together—such as the slow fritz-out of Alex Cortez's "Phlogiston EP," or Palette All-Stars' "After School Special," an acid track whose disorienting qualities sneak up on the listener—nothing becomes claustrophobic.
Clearly, Tejada's background in pre-N.W.A. West Coast electro helps him here. There's elbow room in these circuits, which makes this mix, in feel if not sound, seem pretty L.A. And it helps that a lot of these tracks twinkle rather brightly. Donnacha Costello's "Colorseries Olive B" builds to a melodic fresco so squinchy and ecstatic it's like sunshine peeking through a warehouse window covered in newspaper. Tejada and Justin Maxwell's "Benus Boats" is a perfectly constructed loop-and-variations track that seems to spring out of the air anew with every iteration; its breakdown-and-build-up slides into "M Track 1" by Tejada and Arian Leviste, a coolly timed step sideways into a less bounding groove, which is then dropped for a beautifully timed appearance from "Farenheit 303," an early Orbital track.
That brings the mix to its major shift: the tracks get more stripped down and classic-sounding, right in line with the Orbital pick: M-Core's "Be Gene," Spooky's "Candy," and at the end, "Huba (Plaid's 15 Years Lost Remix)" by LJ Kruzer. This last one is a revealing choice: it has the four-four stomp you expect, but instead of sprinting to the finish line, it instead gives the mix's ending a meandering flavor—it drifts to an end rather than cruising. Sometimes you want to finish dancing by walking in the sun.
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Tracklist: John Tejada - Fabric 44 01. Dave Hughes - Let's Do It
02. Pigon – Kamm
03. Namlook - Subharmonic Atoms
04. Donnacha Costello - Colorseries Olive B
05. WAX - WAX10001
06. Nekes – Cristal
07. Alex Cortez - Phlogiston EP
08. Palette All-Stars - Downtown Hotel
09. Palette All-Stars - After School Special
10. EQD - Equalized001
11. John Tejada & Justin Maxwell - Benus Boats
12. John Tejada & Arian Leviste - M Track 1
13. Orbital - Fahrenheit 303
14. John Tejada – Torque
15. M-Core - Be Gene
16. John Tejada & Arian Leviste - Forbidden Planet
17. Substance - Relish (Shed Remix)
18. Spooky – Candy
19. John Tejada - The Open
20. LJ Kruzer - Huba (Plaid's 15 Years Lost Remix)