Throughout the years, drum & bass has seen a fair share of talent "defect" from its ranks. (A Guy Called Gerald, 4Hero and Boymerang immediately come to mind.) More recently dubstep has been a safe haven for producers who cut their teeth in the drum & bass world, tempting producers like Martyn, Breakage and Kryptic Minds to lower their BPM's and ease down on the breakbeats. So when the Commix boys expressed their malaise with regards to contemporary drum & bass as well as declaring an affinity for house and techno in the press release for their FabricLive cd, it was bound to lead to speculation about the duo's future. But regardless of whether this state of ennui leads the Cambridge duo away from drum & bass in the future, their compilation for the London super club brilliantly displays the variety and quality of drum & bass being made in 2009.
Eschewing a long build-up, Commix quickly lead you into the groove and proceed to tactfully and consistently display the different tastings on offer, effortlessly raising and lowering the energy. Thus, we go from floating synth pads to big bass rumblers, from distorted midrange growls to monolithic bass stabs and from frenzied breakbeat workouts to restrained two-step minimalism and back again.
The playful atmosphere of Commix's own "Life We Live" sets off the mix, but soon gives way to a more sombre spirit with tracks from Rufige Kru and dBridge. This leads into the harder-styled dance floor outings of Alix Perez, Data and Logistics, which soon rolls on into the minimal mood of Spectrasoul's "Buried" and Commix's "Justified." The weary vocals of Calibre's "Can't Get Over You" contrast well with MC Kemo's voice booming over "Dangerous" by Lynx & Alix Perez, which in turn blends smoothly into dBridge's growling remix of the electro tinged "Belleview."
"The newer, the better" dubplate-ethos of drum & bass is prominent, but the mix is peppered with a few classics from the late '90s as well. "Common Origin" from Jonny L's XL days fits nicely with Breakage's aptly titled "Old School Thing" and Photek's "Yendi" sits beautifully between two retro tinged cuts from Instra:mental (including the absolutely gorgeous closing number "Photograph").
While there's nothing really new about the individual tracks showcased here, the mix excellently embodies the unique way that drum & bass, at its best, juxtaposes opposites. Urban intensity plays against tranquil feelings of space and openness, grit and melancholia rub shoulders and darkness is never far from light—making this mix far more than the sum of its parts.
Buy Commix - FabricLive.44 at
Tracklist: Commix - FabricLive.44 01. Commix - Life We Live
02. Rufige Crew - Sometime Sad Day
03. D-Bridge - Creatures of Habit
04. Alix Perez - The Reckoning
05. Data - The Causeway
06. Logistics - Murderation
07. Commix - Justified
08. Spectrasoul - Buried
09. Calibre - Can’t Get Over You
10. Lynx & Alix Perez Ft. Kemo - Dangerous
11. Commix - Belleview (D-Bridge’s Belle-reviewed Mix)
12. Spectrasoul & Ben E - Suppression
13. Calibre - In Denial
14. Commix - Bear Music
15. OAK - No Sunrise
16. Jonny L - Common Origin
17. Breakage - Old School Ting
18. Instra:mental - No Future
19. Photek - Yendi
20. Instra:mental - Photograph