Toddla T - FabricLive.47One of the more ambitious officially released DJ sets in a while begins not with a start, but a mosey. Still, what Toddla T's FabricLive 47 moseys in with is telling: An electro-ragga cover of the Human League's "Love Action" by Philly, the original of which was one of the signal records that put New Pop on the map in 1981. Toddla T clearly wants his mix to be his State of the British Club Union; what better way to assert that dubstep and its satellites are at the center of pop than to draw the line between this epoch and an earlier one?
Still, a mosey is a mosey, and it takes a bit for FabricLive 47 to really get running. "Love Action" itself reads better than it sounds, and following it with a remix of Duffy by the Cavemen threatens overkill. Roots Manuva's appearance on Stone's "Amen" ("Nipples is my tipple," he raps; uh, wow, great, thanks) doesn't help things from seeming pretty anonymous.
That ends in a hurry, though: A pile-up of three tracks by Toddla T and drum & bass producer Clipz turns the once polite proceedings on their ear, and then Andy George's "Refix" of T and Serocee's "Manbadman" crunches the beats and bass into something that moves almost as furiously as Serocee's chanting. (Eventually George sends the whole thing into hyperdrive just for the hell of it.) T's remix of Shake Aletti's "The Way He Does" is amazingly light, considering almost everything in the track is, on its own, abrasive: There are at least three layers of bass grind, trash-can percussion and electro-snares that could also be electro-handclaps.
Later, the mid-'00s grime riddim supreme "Pulse X" makes a more-than-welcome appearance; here's where T's historical sensibility makes the most sense, connecting the dots of a decade's worth of this basic style with snarling panache. Or as T's buoyant "Right Leg Shuffle," made with Oneman and Mr. Versatile, puts it, "Nawsty, nawsty, the bass is just so nawsty."
So yeah: ambitious. Lots of ground covered, lots of forward motion, lots happening at once, an exciting place and time. London is the place to be. And the more headlong FabricLive 47 is, the better.