This weekend, London clubbing institution Fabric turns 16. They're celebrating with a series of parties that feature the likes of Ricardo Villalobos, Nina Kraviz, Oneman, Marcel Dettmann, Steffi, Virginia, DJ Qu, Prosumer, Jamie Jones and a ton of other top tier DJs. We've decided to celebrate their birthday by running through our 16 favorite fabric and fabriclive mixes.
In a market over-saturated with unnecessary mixes, these are metal-boxed exceptions that we'll never tire of. Thanks, Fabric. Have a better 16th than we did.
Fabric 36 — Ricardo Villalobos
Ricardo Villalobos doesn't fuck about. I mean, yeah, all he actually does is fuck about, but he doesn't fuck about if you catch my drift. When it was announced that Ricky V was set to take the reigns on the prestigious 36th installment of the mix series, none of us were that surprised that he'd decided to just include tracks by…Ricardo Villalobos. What we got was essentially a follow up to his one-two punch of deeply weird techno classics Alcachofa and Thé Au Harem D'Archimède. Fabric 36 might be the series' most singularly strange release to date. It bobs and weaves through 80 minutes of heads down k-hole house, utterly spangled techno, a big interlude involving a tonne of kodo drums, and some football chants. It's not the most loveable record you'll ever hear, but it is one of the more intriguing mixes we've ever heard released commercially.
Fabric 13 - Michael Mayer
We've not put these mixes in any order, because we're fair and friendly like that, but if we were forced at gunpoint to only take one metal tin with us into the gates of hell, it'd be the Kompakt boss' microhouse masterclass. It's an object lesson in the art of mixing-as-narrative-tool, taking us from the gloomy portent of Giger's remix of "I Think About You" by Hekio Voss to the gloopy, sentimental, warmhearted openness of…"I Think About You" by Heiko Voss. On the way he takes in sadlad autumnal house classics (Superpitcher's timeless "Mushroom"), piano belters ("Oldschool Baby" by Westbam & Nena) and a double whammy of the saddest dancefloor screamers ever (Richard Davis' duo "Bring Me Closer" and "In the Air"). Utter perfection.
Fabric 45 - Omar S
Apparently, according to Omar S, it can be done but only I can do it — a few years on and we're still no clearer to knowing what the fuck that actually means. Anyway, the Detroit don took a leaf out of Villalobos' book and turned in a mix entirely comprised of his own material. Less self-indulgent than the Chilean's CD, Omar smacks his way through 16 cuts of upfront house and techno. It's not a mix that needs intellectual exploration: chuck it in your stereo, turn the lights off, crack open a beer or two and get ready for a wild ride.
Fabric 52 - Optimo
Given JG Wilkes and JD Twitch's propensity to genre bending — the lads have probably got a bigger record collection than the rest of Scotland put together — it wasn't a massive shock that they managed to craft a mix that joined the dots between Fad Gadget, DJ Harvey, Crazy Cousinz and Thomas Brinkmann. It's a witty, literate mix that never quite got the attention it deserved. Dig it out this weekend: you won't be disappointed.
Fabriclive.09 - Jacques Lu Cont
For a while, back in the heady days of the early 00s, Stuart Price was everywhere. He was remixing pretty much everyone and producing those he hadn't remixed. He somehow managed to find the time to slap together one of the most fun mixes in the entire back catalogue. While it's sort of a period piece — remember Zoot Woman? — there's an unabashed sense of joy running through the entire thing. From the Tom Tom Club's Wordy Rappinghood right up to Devo's jittery, jerky "Snowball" it's like the most fun office party you've never had. And it ends with the best song to end any mix with: "Here Come the Warm Jets" by Brian Eno.
Fabriclive.24 - Diplo
This mix zips along, skipping from classic electro (Cybotron, Hashim) to freestyle (Debbie Deb), to grime (Jammer), Dance Mania screamers (DJ Deeon) to…Cat Power. And it works. This is DJing as dot-joining. In a good way.
Fabriclive.57 - Jackmaster
Jackmaster's one of the best party DJs around (possibly because it looks like he's not stopped partying since 2005) and he didn't disappoint with this raucous, riotous tear through 29 undeniable bangers. You want "Big Fun"? You got it. "The Sun Can't Compare"? Yep. "Pussy Ride"? Yes sir. You basically don't ever need to actually go to a club if you own this.
Fabriclive.29 - Cut Copy
Just before bloghouse broke, this mix was the shit. It was electro for indie lads with swoopy fringes who'd never actually want to step foot in a club but liked the idea of telling people they were "kind of getting into dance music at the moment," and while those people may have been directly responsible for creating and endorsing some of the worst music ever made, this mix still has a special place in our hearts. Nostalgia printed onto a CD, basically. Oh, and the Whitey remix of "Going Nowhere" by Cut Copy sill fucking bangs and don't ever read THUMP again if you disagree.
Fabric 74 - Move D
The nicest, most selfie-friendly man in contemporary club music's mix was a stunner. Which, if you've ever heard a mix by David Mougang before, won't shock you. He's a DJ who keeps things simple, mixing with minimal effort, making sure that every record he selects is a standalone screamer. It's 70 odd minutes of the kind of subtle, groovy deep house you forgot that people still make. Not every mix needs to change the world. Not every mix needs to be radical. Sometimes it's nice to just sit in a warm bath, right?
Fabric 43 - Metro Area
Morgan Geist and Darshan Jesrani's hyperactive workout of prime 80s boogie and disco is proof that the best mixes are often the ones that drop any hint of pretence and concentrate on, y'know, making people dance. Fabric 43 does just that. We think. We've never danced so we're not really sure.
Fabric 34 - Ellen Allien
The BPitch boss' entry is all about the build up. Unlike her live sets — battering, bludgeoning affairs that rarely, if ever, let up for breath — Fabric 34 keeps things stripped back, restrained and, dare we say it, minimal. It bangs, for sure, but it bangs subtly. This is what techno sounded like in 2007. Glory days. We could probably do without the Thom Yorke inclusion in 2015 though. Sorry Ellen. Sorry Thom. That was the done thing back then though — every fucker with access to Ableton threw a Thom Yorke solo tune into the mix. The drugs must have been very, very good back then.
Fabric 39 - Robert Hood
TECHNO TECHNO TECHNO TECHNO TECHNO TECHNO TECHNO TECHNO TECHNO TECHNO TECHNO TECHNO TECHNO TECHNO TECHNO TECHNO TECHNO TECHNO TECHNO TECHNO TECHNO TECHNO TECHNO TECHNO TECHNO TECHNO
Fabriclive.36 - James Murphy & Pat Mahoney
We swear that this mix is the reason why every fucker you've ever met in an East London pub since 2009 is "about to put on a disco night actually, mate." Still, you can't begrudge them for what they spawned, especially as Fabriclive.36 is stuffed to the fucking GILLS with classics. It's got it all: "Lies" by GQ, Donald Byrd's "Love Has Come Around", Danny Wang's "Like Some Dream (I Can't Stop Dreaming" — it's all there. An unstoppable juggernaut of disco delight. Also, bookending a mix with "Beginning of the Heartbreak/Don't Don't" by Peter Gordon & the Love of Life Orchestra is conceptually and musically the best thing ever.
Fabriclive.59 - Four Tet
By the time he was asked to slot something in a metal box for fabric, Keiran Hebden had already presented the world with deep, jazzy, eclectic contributions to the DJ Kicks and Late Night Tales series. By 2011 he'd quietly mutated into a major player in British clubbing, popping up in venues and at festivals across the nation. His instalment of the series is all bumping UK garage, chic continental house, and field recordings made in the club itself. It sounds like a mix custom built for airy, expensive trainer shops. I like airy, expensive trainer shops.
Fabriclive.75 - Elijah & Skilliam
The Fabriclive series was always the less house and techno focused one, indicative of the eclectic blend of styles you can hear down in Farringdon any friday night. Given that grime has edged further and further into the club, it was only a matter of time before two of the scene's most loved DJs stepped up to the platters. The Butterz boys delivered the goods with a ruffneck mix that featured pretty much every MC on the scene running wild on classic instrumental after classic instrumental.
Fabriclive.67 - Ben UFO
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Happy 16th Fabric!