Fabric drafting in Martyn to mix the landmark fiftieth Fabric mix was a landmark all by itself - almost entirely given over to house and techno, the presence of a bass DJ in the series’ roster was a vindication of the increasing relevance of dubstep-borne music. It also served as official confirmation that the lines typically dividing relatively traditional, ‘serious’ house and techno sounds from the extrovert products of the post-rave explosion were becoming ever harder to define. Fabric 50 remained undeniably true to his roots in highly percussive bass music, with Zomby’s airhorn-waving house fusions sitting seamlessly alongside brand new material of the same ilk from Roska, Kode9 and Joy Orbison. But it still managed to effectively join the gaps between both worlds – mixing soulful broken beat courtesy of Maddslinky and Altered Natives into Zomby’s mindbending ‘Little Miss Naughty’, and placing the cavernous Berlin atmosphere of Ben Klock’s ‘Is This Insanity’ remix alongside Actress’ mournful view of London’s streets.
Arriving a couple of weeks after Fabric 50’s release, this pair of remix 12”s treads similar ground, allowing a diverse set of producers to tear apart the already impressive source material into a genreless blur of colour and shape. On the first plate, Zomby’s rework of ‘Hear Me’ twists the original’s plea into a pained and desperate cry for help. Superimposed over one of his most straightforward and danceable beats yet - all descending bass and loose-limbed Africanised percussion - it manages to create and sustain a mournful and melancholy party energy. A bit of a paradox on paper, but its shamanic nature brings to mind tribal funeral rites – as much a celebration of life as a recognition of death, and one imbued with that three am sense of immortality that draws a second into sensory eternity.
Both Ben Klock and Redshape draw out the latent techno influences scattered throughout Great Lengths. Redshape’s ‘Seventy Four’ reimagines the original as a hypnotic seven-minute sprawl, its metronomic backing building in stages over a circular central theme that unfolds to absorb the entire mix before receding. Even better is Ben Klock’s remix of ‘Is This Insanity’, Spaceape’s chill musings sounding more darkly prophetic than usual over an appropriately minimalist techno pulse. In true Klock style, it’s hard to imagine this sounding quite right anywhere other than a pitch-black Berlin warehouse – but as with much of his and Marcel Dettmann’s material, that evocative nature is a large part of its appeal.
As an appropriate closer, Illum Sphere’s remix of ‘Brilliant Orange’ is simply gorgeous – drowned in a tropical storm of vinyl fuzz, its humid pulses of minor key synth take on a strangely physical quality that resonates like voice through water. A little reminiscent of Nosaj Thing’s Drift or Clubroot’s self-titled debut, it seems to prioritise atmosphere over compositional progression – a welcome development after the techno-centric sounds that came before.