This sometimes overwrought mix signals a change of direction for the club's new series.
Your view on the choice of Bonobo for the first edition of fabric presents may depend on your relationship with fabric itself. According to Resident Advisor, Simon Green has played at fabric only once before (in October 2018), and his style of mellow, mainstream-leaning house and electronica hasn't been a regular feature at the club. It's easy to imagine older fabric heads, who know the club as an early adopter of tech house, minimal and new UK club music, finding him a strange fit. Viewed from a different angle, though, Green represents new ground for fabric. He's an artist with broader appeal than most fabric regulars, representing a sound less esoteric and more musically rich.
Green wastes very little time in showing exactly this. The first chunk of the mix is an explosion of melody, instrumentation and good vibes. It's almost too much. There's a noticeable key clash in the mix between Alex Kassian's "Hidden Tropics" and Âme's 2004 track "Nia" that shows a DJ doing too much too quickly. "Nia" is a rousing house music classic, but its execution here feels rushed. Plenty of the tracks Green selects have a "more is more" attitude—more melodies, more percussion, more sunshine—that both helps and hinders the mix. "Nia," for example, is followed by Durante's "Maia," a pretty synth-led number that smartly chills things out. With the introduction of an extra synth line, though, it becomes drunk on its own sense of grandeur.
The mix is at its best when Green deviates more between light and dark, a balance he attains nicely towards the end. The greater contrast helps a track like Dan Kye's vocal-led "Focus" feel extra deep and soulful, and Barakas's "Roach," which comes next, sound especially rude and shady. R. Lyle's "Perpetrator," a sort of broken techno cut with cascades of strings—one of the many unreleased tracks on the mix—also benefits from being next to Laurent Garnier's loved-up remix of Rone's "Mirapolis." There's little on the mix that's more than a couple years old, but the strength of two tracks near the end show this may have been a mistake. Nepa Allstar's "The Way," a bubbly 2001 broken beat track, and John Beltran's "Collage Of Dreams," a pristine 1996 ambient piece, are both very sick in very different ways.
fabric presents Bonobo hangs together a little awkwardly, with the control of energy at times misjudged. Still, there are plenty of ear-catching moments. Dance music fans who prefer upbeat moods should find plenty to like, and the availability of the full individual tracks, a new move for fabric, is a bonus. The reality in which fabric finds itself is that it might need to piss off some people as it develops new directions—the choice of the next DJ, whose mix comes out three months from now, should be very interesting.
Fri / 22 Feb 2019
01. Bonobo - Flicker
02. Bonobo - Boston Common
03. Poté - Jacquot (Waters Of Praslin)
04. Alex Kassian - Hidden Tropics
05. Âme - Nia
06. Durante - Maia
07. Dark Sky & Afriquoi - Cold Harbour
08. Bonobo - Ibrik
09. Olsen - Femenine
10. O'Flynn - TKOTN
11. TSHA - Sacred
12. Will Saul - By Your Side
13. Titeknots - Buzzard Walk
14. Dan Kye - Focus
15. Barakas - Roach
16. R. Lyle - Perpetrator
17. Rone - Mirapolis (Laurent Garnier Remix)
18. Throwing Snow - Rheged
19. Nepa Allstar - The Way
20. DJ Seinfeld - Stargard
21. Earth Trax & Newborn JR - If You (Club Mix) feat. Annjet
22. John Beltran - Collage Of Dreams