Lazarus' wandering ear makes for a fascinating tracklist. Four Tet shares space with Ryan Crosson. UK funky maestro Roska and yacht house specialists Soul Clap rub shoulders as well. For the first portion of the mix, it also holds together remarkably well. Somehow the sonic character of Appleblim & Ramadanman's busy house workout "Void 23" flows seamlessly into Claude VonStroke's laidback remix of Kenny Larkin's "Glob" before Lazarus slips in a shout-out to the sound of the club's past with Swayzak's brilliant 2000 cut "Ping Pong." Smooth and assured, the CD warms up in the same way as Craig Richards' Fabric 01.
It's when Lazarus cuts things off, restarting the mix with The Mole's "Nervous Disid" after the epic Massive Attack-sampling "Break 4 Life," that the curse of his taste starts to creep in. The tracks themselves are great and, at times, phenomenal. The easy groove of Deetron's "Sing" never sounded better, Soul Keita & Nicolas Jaar's "Para(sol)" continues to prove that (for the Clown & Sunset duo) a little bit of eclecticism can go a long way. Lee Jones' "Yoyo" is a brooding monster whose guitar (?) solo sounds like a whale valiantly singing jazz through his speech impediment.
Compared to the tightly mixed and quick-moving first half, though, it's less a showcase for Lazarus and more a showcase for his taste. Track lengths balloon and Fabric 54's formerly cohesive feel dissolves into a sort of "have you heard this one?" mixtape that ends with the raw disco of Su Kramer's "Magic Dance" and Bill Holt's curious avant pop. Given that it's an 80-minute mix, Lazarus is more than welcome to share some of his off-kilter favorites at the end. But it's indicative of how Fabric 54 unveils itself to be three-in-one by its end. For listeners, it's likely that'll be both blessing and curse.