A clue, perhaps, can be traced in a track like Olene Kadar's "Baby Keep It Up." Drop the needle to its midpoint and a resonant filter glides over heavily swung hi-hats and provocative vocals ("girl can you still breath? / cus your shit's so tight"). Classic Carter. Only when the kick and bass give it up the inferred response is to not to shake, but to jump. Repeat the command often enough over 17 tracks and fatigue begins to set in—ditto Green Velvet's "La La Land" a cappella spread liberally over the entire mix. 123 BPM is the rough running speed, but given its sheer relentlessness feels five BPM faster.
That's not to suggest that there aren't examples of what Carter does best here. Or indeed that Carter should be doing any one thing. Scrubfish's "Testify to the Soul Provider" mashes low-end irresistibility with rollicking funk samples; Cricco Castelli's "First Love" from 1999 is a timeless example of house music's holy union with the sampler. The latter gives way to Johnny D's remix of Osunlade's "Pride," suggesting a kinship with the German producer's resolutely groove-focussed output. These tracks make up an early midsection that while breathless does ride contours, and as a result is the most gratifying passage. It's in the mix's six track finale, however, that Carter really irons out any nuance. The section begins with his remix of "Percolator"—a natural selection but jarring in this context—and ends with Abraham Inc.'s "Moskowitz Remix," a number that (thanks to its 1930s cartoon chase scene samples) is difficult to describe as anything less than irritating.
The conundrum is re-raised when you consider that there's little in this final passage, or indeed the mix as a whole, that hasn't been touched on by Carter before to great effect. His classic outings were unyielding in a rough-and-tumble kind of way, and were never afraid to test the limits of taste when it came to sampling. But there's something missing—something almost imperceptible and between the beats—that causes Fabric 56 to miss the mark. My guess is sex appeal.