Reviews

Four Tet 'Fabriclive 59' Launch Party: 23 September 2011 - London

Alex Baker

In celebrating the release of the latest instalment in the Fabriclive series, Four Tet and friends join forces to bring what, on paper at least, should be one of the best nights of the year.

Four Tet

Four Tet Fabriclive 59 Album Launch Party

City: London
Venue: Fabric
Date: 2011-09-23

Considering the ongoing success story that has been Kieran Hebden’s (Four Tet) career thus far, the only surprising thing about him providing the latest instalment in the Fabriclive series is that it has taken 59 issues of the long running series for him to contribute. Bringing together kindred spirits Caribou and Trevor Jackson, as well as many of the most exciting talents in contemporary electronic music such as Rocketnumbernine, Jacques Greene and Pearson Sound, to help launch the album at the compilation series’ spiritual home, London’s very own ‘super club’ Fabric. The compilation itself functions as a trip down memory lane for Hebden, harking back to his formative years and his love for late '90s two-step garage and to role that Fabric played in his life, stating, “This mix is not about my DJing. It’s about London and Fabric and nights out and my take on all that. The memories and the influences”. The release of the mix itself is well-timed, as the UK dance scene (and beyond) is now inundated with bass-music, from dubstep to post-dubstep to nu-dubstep to whatever new genre name that has been invented in the last five minutes; with the retrospective appreciation of the Garage scene evident almost everywhere you look. The celebration of a mix from one of the world’s most influential producers, as well as a celebration of the city and of the institution that is Fabric, coupled with performances from an eclectic range of innovative artists all looked on paper to be a night to remember. And it was, for all the wrong reasons.

Fabric itself has become somewhat a victim of its own success, derided by Londoners as a tourist trap and a venue filled with rude-boys who fancy being a "raver" for a night. Located in a former meat-packing plant, it was voted as best club in the world by DJ Magazine in 2007, and came in at number two in the polls in 2008, 2009 and 2010, a notoriety which has lead it to be one of the number one destinations for club tourists. Previous visits to the venue have confirmed the prevalence of visitor’s to the city, with the labyrinthine stairwells echoing with a multitude of languages, however due to the international nature of electronic music, and when one takes into consideration the tens of thousands of English people who quite happily flood the rest of Europe during festival season, it has never really been an issue, as who cares where the people around you come from, as long as you’re all enjoying the same music. This evening however finally brought home to me the destructive nature of Fabric’s international and, more importantly, national appeal, easily summed up in two words: Fresher’s Week.

As each year passes and the memory of my University days fades even more, ascribing notable dates in the academic calendar to events held in the real world has become more difficult. It was only once I had descended into the cavernous interior, down the Escher-like stairs (they truly function like an optical illusion, with two identical staircases at either end of the venue, you can seemingly spend hours walking up the same staircase and enter into a different room each time), that the importance of the date struck me. Coming at the end of first year University students first week at University, an event at Fabric with a line-up filled with some of the most notable cross-over acts of the last few years was bound to have wide appeal. An appeal that was fully realised, as evidenced by the swarming sea of teenagers that filled every corner of the venue, wide-eyed and kitted out for the first big rave of their University careers. It was not the age, nor the exuberance of the crowd which was the issue; it was the sheer quantity of students which left Fabric bursting at the seams for the majority of the night.

The camaraderie that seems to exist between some of electronic music’s most innovative producers, which has lead to numerous collaborations of late – the most notable of which having been released by various combinations of Four Tet, Caribou, Burial and Thom Yorke – and could be witnessed on this evening due to the prevalence in the line-up of artists who feature on the soon to be released Radiohead remix album TKOL: 1234567. Alongside Four Tet himself, Caribou and Jacques Greene who each feature on the remix album, Room 2 played host to fellow contributors Lone, Pearson Sound and the first act of the night that we saw, Objekt.

One of electronic music’s rising stars, the now Berlin-based producer was the second act to line up in Room 2, hosted by Hessle Audio, the record label to which the likes of Ramadanman/Pearson Sound, Will Saul, Pangaea, and James Blake are all signed. His reworking of "Bloom" is a weird but wonderful bass-heavy track which utilises Yorke’s vocals perfectly, and he was not the first artist of the night to feature his Radiohead remix in his set. The one problem, which raised its head time and time again over the course of the night, was the MC that Hessle Audio employed to accompany almost every act to feature in Room 2. Trying to enjoy the music, whether it be played by Objekt, or later Peverelist, Ben UFO, Pearson Sound or Lone, whilst an increasingly annoying MC shouts “Hessle Audio, Hessle Audio, Hessle Hessle Hessle Hessle Audio!!!” interspersed with “Come on Room 2!! Put your hands in the air, this is for you!” is near-on impossible. Almost more surprising than his inclusion in proceedings was the lack of imagination, the sheer bloody-mindedness and the somewhat admirable perseverance to continue along the same tangent for near-on five hours.

Whilst Room 2 suffered from the MC malaise, Room 1 was victim of an even more disconcerting problem. Wrestling into the back of the room, we arrived to see Rocketnumbernine grace the stage amidst much dry ice and the two Page brothers weaving their mix beautiful swooshing analogues and live drums. With Tom on the drums and Ben playing synths, their set floated out across the ever increasing crowd, the gentleness of the music contrasting greatly with the havoc being wreaked by newcomers to the room rugby tackling their way to the front. The stamina required merely to watch the likes of Rocketnumbernine, and later Jacques Greene and Four Tet took away a lot from the performances. Jacques Greene though did manage to demonstrate just why he is creating so much excitement at the moment, with his pop-infused house and dubstep maintaining the dreamy/dirty disparity between Rooms 1 and 2.

By the time that Four Tet graced the decks, the pandemonium in Room 1 had reached a new level, and thankfully, once over, signalled the slow but steady dispersement of enough people that once Caribou appeared, one could actually breathe once more. Staying true to the spirit of his Fabriclive mix, his set was retrospective, injecting garage-inspired fun into the room, the highlight of which was T2’s hit "Heartbroken". Had there been room to dance, the track, and indeed the set would have truly ripped it up.

Thankfully, the lateness of Caribou’s set meant that alcohol and dancing had taken their toll on many of the party-goers, and at about 5 am, and halfway through his set, space began to emerge on the dance floor. Displaying just how much he has, along with Hebden, caught the dance-bug, his set was techno and electro infused, with his Daphne track "Ye Ye" eliciting the most cheers. With Hebden standing beside him behind the decks, the excitement that the first glance of the evening’s line-up had created seemed finally fulfilled, and managed to end the night on a high.

All in all, the music on the night was exemplary, and had a certain MC taken a few more breathers, and had Fabric not sold so many tickets, the night would have been a storming success. As it was, it will be remembered for many things, with the music on show unfortunately not high up on the list.

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

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Music

The Best Dance Tracks of 2017

Photo: Murielle Victorine Scherre (Courtesy of Big Beat Press)

From the "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique to Stockholm Noir's brilliant string of darkly foreboding, electro-licked singles, here are ten selections that represent some of the more intriguing dance offerings of 2017.

In June of 2016, prolific producer Diplo lambasted the world of DJ's in an interview with Billboard, stating that EDM was dying. Coincidentally enough, the article's contents went viral and made their way into Vice Media's electronic music and culture channel Thump, which closed its doors after four years this summer amid company-wide layoffs. Months earlier, electronic music giant SFX Entertainment filed bankruptcy and reemerged as Lifestyle, Inc., shunning the term "EDM".

So here we are at the end of 2017, and the internet is still a flurry with articles declaring that Electronic Dance Music is rotting from the inside out and DJ culture is dying on the vine, devoured by corporate greed. That might all well be the case, but electronic music isn't disappearing into the night without a fight as witnessed by the endless parade of emerging artists on the scene, the rise of North America's first Electro Parade in Montréal, and the inaugural Electronic Music Awards in Los Angeles this past September.

For every insipid, automaton disc jockey-producer, there are innovative minds like Anna Lunoe, Four Tet, and the Black Madonna, whose eclectic, infectious sets display impeccable taste, a wealth of knowledge, and boundless creativity. Over the past few years, many underground artists have been thrust into the mainstream spotlight and lost the je ne sais quoi that made them unique. Regardless, there will always be new musicians, producers, singers, and visionaries to replace them, those who bring something novel to the table or tip a hat to their predecessors in a way that steps beyond homage and exhilarates as it did decades before.

As electronic music continues to evolve and its endless sub-genres continue to expand, so do fickle tastes, and preferences become more and more subjective with a seemingly endless list of artists to sift through. With so much music to digest, its no wonder that many artists remain under the radar. This list hopes to remedy that injustice and celebrate tracks both indie and mainstream. From the "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique to Stockholm Noir's brilliant string of darkly foreboding, electro-licked singles, here are ten selections that represent some of the more intriguing dance offerings of 2017.

10. Moullinex - “Work It Out (feat. Fritz Helder)”

Taken from Portuguese producer, DJ, and multi-instrumentalist Luis Clara Gomes' third album Hypersex, "Work It Out" like all of its surrounding companions is a self-proclaimed, "collective love letter to club culture, and a celebration of love, inclusion and difference." Dance music has always seemingly been a safe haven for "misfits" standing on the edge of the mainstream, and while EDM manufactured sheen might have taken the piss out of the scene, Hypersex still revels in that defiant, yet warm and inviting attitude.

Like a cheeky homage to Rick James and the late, great High Priest of Pop, Prince, this delectably filthy, sexually charged track with its nasty, funk-drenched bass line, couldn't have found a more flawless messenger than former Azari & III member Fritz Helder. As the radiant, gender-fluid artist sings, "you better work your shit out", this album highlight becomes an anthem for all those who refuse to bow down to BS. Without any accompanying visuals, the track is electro-funk perfection, but the video, with its ruby-red, penile glitter canon, kicks the whole thing up a notch.

9. Touch Sensitive - “Veronica”

The neon-streaked days of roller rinks and turtlenecks, leg warmers and popped polo collars have come and gone, but you wouldn't think so listening to Michael "Touch Sensitive" Di Francesco's dazzling debut Visions. The Sydney-based DJ/producer's long-awaited LP and its lead single "Lay Down", which shot to the top of the Hype Machine charts, are as retro-gazing as they are distinctly modern, with nods to everything from nu disco to slo-mo house.

Featuring a sample lifted from 90s DJ and producer Paul Johnson's "So Much (So Much Mix)," the New Jack-kissed "Veronica" owns the dance floor. While the conversational interplay between the sexed-up couple is anything but profound, there is no denying its charms, however laughably awkward. While not everything on Visions is as instantly arresting, it is a testament to Di Francesco's talents that everything old sounds so damn fresh again.

8. Gourmet - “Delicious”

Neither Gourmet's defiantly eccentric, nine-track debut Cashmere, nor its subsequent singles, "There You Go" or "Yellow" gave any indication that the South African purveyor of "spaghetti pop" would drop one of the year's sassiest club tracks, but there you have it. The Cape Town-based artist, part of oil-slick, independent label 1991's diminutive roster, flagrantly disregards expectation on his latest outing, channeling the Scissor Sisters at their most gloriously bitchy best, Ratchet-era Shamir, and the shimmering dance-pop of UK singer-producer Joe Flory, aka Amateur Best.

With an amusingly detached delivery that rivals Ben Stein's droning roll call in Ferris Bueller's Day Off , he sings "I just want to dance, and fuck, and fly, and try, and fail, and try again…hold up," against a squelchy bass line and stabbing synths. When the percussive noise of what sounds like a triangle dinner bell appears within the mix, one can't help but think that Gourmet is simply winking at his audience, as if to say, "dinner is served."

7. Pouvoir Magique - “Chalawan”

Like a psychoactive ayahuasca brew, the intoxicating "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique's LP Disparition, is an exhilarating trip into unfamiliar territory. Formed in November of 2011, "Magic Power" is the musical project of Clément Vincent and Bertrand Cerruti, who over the years, have cleverly merged several millennia of songs from around the world with 21st-century beats and widescreen electro textures. Lest ye be worried, this is anything but Deep Forest.

In the spring of 2013, Pouvoir Magique co-founded the "Mawimbi" collective, a project designed to unite African musical heritage with contemporary soundscapes, and released two EPs. Within days of launching their label Musiques de Sphères, the duo's studio was burglarized and a hard drive with six years of painstakingly curated material had vanished. After tracking down demos they shared with friends before their final stages of completion, Clément and Bertrand reconstructed an album of 12 tracks.

Unfinished though they might be, each song is a marvelous thing to behold. Their stunning 2016 single "Eclipse," with its cinematic video, might have been one of the most immediate songs on the record, but it's the pulsing "Chalawan," with its guttural howls, fluttering flute-like passages, and driving, hypnotic beats that truly mesmerizes.

6. Purple Disco Machine - “Body Funk” & “Devil In Me” (TIE)

Whenever a bevy of guest artists appears on a debut record, it's often best to approach the project with caution. 85% of the time, the collaborative partners either overshadow the proceedings or detract from the vision of the musician whose name is emblazoned across the top of the LP. There are, however, pleasant exceptions to the rule and Tino Piontek's Soulmatic is one of the year's most delightfully cohesive offerings. The Dresden-born Deep Funk innovator, aka Purple Disco Machine, has risen to international status since 2009, releasing one spectacular track and remix after another. It should go without saying that this long-awaited collection, featuring everyone from Kool Keith to Faithless and Boris D'lugosch, is ripe with memorable highlights.

The saucy, soaring "Mistress" shines a spotlight on the stellar pipes of "UK soul hurricane" Hannah Williams. While it might be a crowning moment within the set, its the strutting discofied "Body Funk", and the album's first single, "Devil In Me", that linger long after the record has stopped spinning. The former track with its camptastic fusion of '80s Sylvester gone 1940s military march, and the latter anthem, a soulful stunner that samples the 1968 Stax hit "Private Number", and features the vocal talents of Duane Harden and Joe Killington, feels like an unearthed classic. Without a doubt, the German DJ's debut is one of the best dance records of the year.

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