DJ T. - Fabric 51With 101 compilations in the books, any DJ that hasn't yet been selected to mix a Fabric or Fabric:Live compilation must feel like a kid still standing on the lines as they pick teams in the playground. The fact that DJ T.'s invitation has been so long coming is surprising, however, given the strong links between the London superclub and his Berlin-based Get Physical label. Both emerged as key players in underground house's renaissance during the '00s; the minimal sound proffered by Thomas Koch and his Get Physical cohorts like Booka Shade became the standard diet for Fabric's Saturday night. The delay likely has something to do with an aversion to pigeonholing; after all, Fabric marked the 50th edition of the series with Martyn's mix of dubstep, techno and wonky, a rebuke to anyone still passing the club's Saturdays off as a 4/4-only affair or who believed the series had run out of steam.
It's something which certainly succeeded from Fabric's perspective, given the rapturous reviews Martyn's mix received, but which poses a problem for the man immediately following it up. After all, just playing to your strengths and turning in a straight house mix might now look unambitious, while trying to match your immediate predecessor's eclectic tricks runs the risk of showing up your weaknesses in comparison.
For the first part of Fabric 51, it seems Koch himself doesn't have the answer, kicking half-heartedly between nondescript tracks like 10Lec6's "Drown Dogs" and Matias Aguayo's "Pata Pata." But when Jemeni starts rhyming religious revelations on Ben Mono's "Jesus Was A B-Boy," you realise that Koch is playing with subtler tactics. Binding his tracks together not so much with beats but vocals, Koch seems to set them up in a fractured dialogue reminiscent of fragmentary 3 AM conversations; so that the paranoid nightlife tale of Soulphiction and International Pony's "The Royal Pennekaums" is answered by the paean to house music redemption that is DJ Le Roi and Roland Clark's "I Get Deep" for example.
Unlike someone jabbering in your ear while you're trying to dance, this doesn't distract you from the music. And T. hits his stride in the second half, building from the punchy electro of Azari and III's "Hungry for the Power" through to the swimming groove of his own "Try To Understand" before the discofied Crazy P remix of Mujava's "Township Funk" slams the mix into the back of the net. Fabric 51 is a mix of two halves, and while DJ T. isn't the flashiest player the club has ever picked, he's come on at just the right time to help them play the long game.
Thomas Koch aka DJ T. has been a vital part of electronic music and club culture for over 20 years. Uniquely accomplished in both influence and scope, he has excelled in every one of his incarnations: DJ, label owner, producer, club operator, publisher and journalist. Having recently closed one chapter of his working life - behind the scenes of Get Physical Music management - DJ T. is now primed to conquer 2011 purely as an artist, with his highly-anticipated third LP Pleasure Principle. View the full artist profile