Few club venues on this planet inspire more reverence from DJs than fabric: one need only review the testimonials from those who've helmed installments of the club's mix series to get a sense for how often a DJ has viewed his contribution as a chance to give something back to the place. Kieran Hebden, the man known as Four Tet, is no exception—in fact he's taken things a bit further: for his Fabriclive entry, a diverse, compelling tapestry of 2-step, house and broken beats, Hebden has woven in shreds of field recordings made of the club, on the street and down in its stylishly industrial bowels. This gives the mix a topographical quality, as if you're moving from Room One to Room Two to Room Three and back again, lost in a warren of dizzying bass pulses and echoing voices.
Jazz music is often cited as a strong influence on Hebden's polyglot style—it's clearly there in the shuffling, pitched-down drums he favors. I'd argue that jazz has colored Hebden's mixing skills as well—you can find something akin to the syncopations of jazz rhythms in the nimble gait that Hebden adopts in skirting from one track to the next: see particularly the bold entrance that the aggressive beats from Youngstar's "Pulse X" make towards the end of KH's romantically moody "101112": they elbow their way to the front, the bass pound interrupting the last tune's shadowy make-out session. And check how "Angie's Fucked," a compelling oddity from 2001, explodes with a minor whirlwind of buzzing noises that sounds like a miniature rave happening on the inside of a dial-up modem, only to get swallowed in the spectral murk of Burial's "Street Halo."
It's furthermore nice to see an artist like Four Tet adopt the challenge of restraining his versatility: don't forget that this is a guy whose DJ Kicks mix included Curtis Mayfield, Akufen and Animal Collective. Here Hebden's natural eclecticism is nicely tempered by the demands of the floor. The majority of Hebden's mix derives from garage and 2-step, those intertwined, predominantly turn-of-the-century UK subgenres that took junglist drum patterns and melted them down into spare, often haunting, R&B-laced tunes that while fairly speedy at 130-ish BPMs could still feel atmospheric and chilled out. The steps from 2-step to dubstep are fairly easy to follow considering how snug tunes from the late '90s like the white-label only Active Minds' "Hobson's Choice" sit here alongside more contemporary fare like STL's "Dark Energy."
Hebden saves one of the big banger moments for himself, which he builds up to with some straight up house from Ricardo Villalobos. With its hypnotic vocal loop and jacked beats, the mix-exclusive "Pyramid" sounds like a raved-up version of tunes like "Love Cry" and "Angel Echoes" from There Is Love In You. And he's gone and placed another Four Tet tune after the Outro, which clearly sounds like you're exiting the club and are back on the streets near Farringdon station, so I'm guessing with its lullaby keys and mellow vibe "Locked" is supposed to sing you to sleep after a greasy street breakfast sometime Sunday afternoon.
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Tracklist: Four Tet - FabricLive.59 01. Intro
02. Michael Redolfi - Immersion Partielle
03. Crazy Bald Heads - First Born
04. Persian - Feel Da Vibe
05. KH - 101112
06. Youngstar (Musical Mob) - Pulse X
07. Crazy Bald Heads - First Born (Four Tet Remix)
08. Floating Points - Sais (dub)
09. Apple - Mr Bean
10. Manitoba - Webers
11. Big Bird - Flav (Urban Myths Remix)
12. Genius - Waiting
13. Four Tet - Fabric
14. David Borden - The Continuing Story of Counterpoint Part Nine
15. STL - Dark Energy
16. Percussions - Percussions One
17. C++ - Angie's Fucked
18. Burial - Street Halo
19. KMA - Cape Fear
20. WK7 - Higher Power
21. Ricardo Villalobos - Sieso
22. Four Tet - Pyramid
23. Red Rack 'em - How I Program
24. Active Minds - Hobson's Choice (Tune For Da Man Dem)
25. Armando Gallop & Steve Poindexter - Blackholes
27. Four Tet - Locked
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