[19 February 2007]
Luke Slater got his start in music in the late ‘80s at the Mi Price record store in Croydon, just south of London, working alongside a number of aspiring musicians, including eventual collaborator Alan Sage. Not long afterwards, he opened his own shop in Brighton, called Jelly Jam Records, and soon started releasing original singles under a host of different names, often in collaboration with Sage. Slater’s first taste of success came with the release of “Momentary Vision” in 1989, a Detroit-influenced track of stripped down funk recorded under the name Translucent. New material didn’t emerge until a couple years later, when Slater began releasing tracks on his own Jelly Jam label, as well as on Dutch label D-Jax Up-Beats, Peace Frog, and GPR Records, under a variety of names, including Luke Slater, Planetary Assault Systems, Morganistic, and Luke Slater’s Seventh Plane. Slater later signed with NovaMute, and released his major label debut, Freek Funk, in 1997. A blend of Detroit-influenced acid and funky electronics, the disc was popular on dancefloors all over the world. Two years later, Slater released a follow-up, Wireless, which saw him experimenting with breakbeats and electro, while not abandoning his strength: intense, rhythmic techno. Now, several years later, he’s back to releasing cutting edge techno on his own imprint, Mote-Evolver Records.
Now Slater delivers Fabric 32, the latest installment in the venerable mix series released on Fabric Records, run by the London club of the same name. Following in the footsteps of such luminaries as Andrew Weatherall (Fabric 19), John Digweed (Fabric 20), and Carl Craig (Fabric 25), Slater has produced an intense mix of machine funk and techno recorded live in Fabric’s Room 2. As Slater explained, “This mix is a true representation of what I play there [at Fabric]. I wanted to do the main part down at the club to get that vibe right from the club. It’s kind of a funky punk disco electronic mix and specifically related to Fabric… Fabric really is quite special.”
It’s generally pretty hard to review a mix CD. Except for the occasional down-tempo series, like “Back to Mine” or “Late Night Tales”, most mixes aren’t meant to be enjoyed by a CD reviewer sitting comfortably on his couch, so it’s hard to get a real feel for the impact a particular mix would have on the dancefloor of a packed club. After all, part of the appeal of a great mix comes from the visceral impact of the music in a club environment: the quality of the sound system, the volume of the music, the light show, and the ability of the DJ to work the crowd into a frenzy before playing that perfect 80-minute set all work together to make a particular set memorable.
That said, Slater has delivered an excellent mix of hard-edged, funky techno that’s a little bit unpredictable. Starting out with the straight-ahead techno of “Rhythm Division” by L.B. Dub Corp, the mix moves quickly on to the groovy German techno of Marcus Lange’s “Ruhestörung Plattenbau” and “Brain Freeze” by the absurdly named Trés Demented. Things start to get a bit strange during the Club Mix of “A Bit Patchy” by Switch, when Slater drops in a few bars of “Apache”, a piece of old school ‘70s funk by Michael Viner’s Incredible Bongo Band, but order is quickly restored, and the mix moves on to one of Slater’s own songs, “Organ Bender (Alone in the Altar of Twisted Souls Mix)”. Other highlights include “Sister Self Doubt” by Sahakes, “Love Is in the Air (Mock & Toof Remix)” by the Juan Maclean, “Doctor Gato (Plus 4 Reasons)” by Activator, and “The Message” by Jurgen Dreissden.