[29 June 2006]
I must admit that when this disc first arrived in the mail, I was very excited. The Fabric series came to prominence on the strength of releasing interesting, evocative mixes by some of the biggest and most distinctive names in dance music. But moreso than merely the sum of their DJ mixes, the series has also excelled for its eclecticism, releasing discs from the likes of James Lavelle and John Peel that have stretched the traditional boundaries of mix CDs, and brought a delightful sense of variety to bear on a genre that can easily, under the auspices of unimaginative practitioners, be dismissed as repetitive and stagnant. But even given that, imagine my surprise at the announcement that the next disc in the Fabric series was to be mixed by none other than the Wiggles. Would Australia’s beloved childrens’ entertainers display an unexpected fondness for prog house, or maybe jazz-influenced drum & bass? Would we perhaps get a Koma & Bones remix of “The Monkey Dance”?
But wait, it’s not the Wiggles… it’s Wiggle, singular. Oh, well. Never mind then.
Who are Wiggle, then? Terry Francis and Nathan Coles, two London DJs who began spinning in the mid-‘90s after an early immersion in the acid house scene. The music on Fabric 28 straddles a fine line between harder techno of the type you might find on something like the Soma label, and deep house of the kind that maybe Deep Dish would play, with a strong element of New York garage as well, especially in the use of recurring R&B motifs. It’s very much a party-friendly sound, the kind of style you would easily expect to hear from two DJs who got their start by throwing events for their friends and fellow DJs. There’s very little pretense on display here, not a lot of flashy segueways or signature tracks, just a fine dance mix that satisfies on many levels.
Considering their pedigree as veterans of the London scene, it’s slightly odd that this is the first mix disc Wiggle have released. Whereas many of the Fabric discs carry the expectations of an already-established DJ’s reputation, Wiggle will arrive as a blank-slate for many listeners. Given the potential shortfalls of producing a their first mix for such a high-profile series, the duo acquit themselves remarkably well. Fabric 28 manages to impress on account of its understated charm, more content to build a mood through precise repetition and shifting texture than to bludgeon the listener with sonic virtuosity.
The mix gets off to a relatively sedate start, with a few slow-burning tracks building up to the Peace Division’s “Club Therapy”. The Peace Division are probably the biggest “name” featured on the mix’s tracklisting, and the two groups make a good fit—the Peace Division’s trademark understated tech-house makes a perfect complement to the overriding “deep and dirty” mood. Argy’s “Love Dose” moves the mix in a slightly more orthodox acid direction, with vintage 303 squelches and pseudo-samba electric piano vamps. The mixes continue at a fairly high tempo, with energetic pieces like “No Need to See” by Cle and the Nathan Coles mix of C-Soul’s “Everybody” also introducing the slight hints of garage that flit around the edges of the mix.
Wiggle know just how to pace their mix for optimum precision. After an early peak, the mix segues into a slightly quieter mood, with contemplative tracks like the Wozsonik Vokz mix of Laid’s “Punch Up” giving the listener a slight respite before ramping back up to a final climax with Terry & Ricardo’s emphatic “Change”, and especially the Dennis Ferrer mix of “The Cure & The Cause” by Fish Go Deep featuring Tracey K, which is one of the catchiest vocal house numbers I’ve heard in quite some time.
After the climax, the mix segues downward in tempo and tone, leaving a pleasantly blissful and thoroughly relaxed impression on the listener. Again, this isn’t the most expressive mix on the racks, and in places it may even suffer for its reserved disposition, but on the whole it works phenomenally well as an example of DJing at its most well-heeled and skillful. Although they somehow managed to fly under the radar before now, I anticipate we shall hear much more from Wiggle in the future.
Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/wiggle-fabric28/