John Tejada - Fabric 44It 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.