Music

Spank Rock: Fabriclive 33

Matthew Fiander

Spank Rock curate the latest mix in the Fabriclive series, and manage to make Yes and Kurtis Blow good bedfellows, while also tapping hard-hitters like DFA and Daft Punk to anchor this strong compilation.


Spank Rock

Fabriclive 33

Label: Fabric London
US Release Date: 2007-04-24
UK Release Date: 2007-04-16
Amazon
iTunes

It’s hard not to know who Spank Rock is these days. The Two-DJ and MC hip-hop trio responsible for the brilliant YoYoYoYoYo have officially blown up. And, aside from appearances on late night television and countless magazine articles, their newfound notoriety has afforded them the opportunity to curate the latest mix in the Fabriclive series released by Fabric Nightclub in London. MC Spank Rock takes a backseat here, as DJ Ronnie Darko and producer Alex Upton put together a mix consisting of an often fragmented 29 tracks.

The results are pretty great on the whole. The continuous mix is always exciting, always danceable, and always fresh. We get started with Kurtis Blow’s “The Breaks” and it sets the scene for a mix informed by early hip-hop, but not bogged down by it. Using Blow and others from the hip-hop game as a base, the Spank Rock crew bounce around from electronica to drums and bass to newer hip-hop to old school R&B to disco and back again through them all. One can easily picture a dance floor of people shaking it hard to this mix, unwilling to stop because, well, Fabriclive 33 doesn’t give you a chance to stop. Spank Rock is aware of how difficult it is to cultivate a dance mix this long and make it continuously engaging, and you can feel their hard work here.

There are inclusions in the mix that may evoke surprise or even controversy in the dance sect. Songs like Yes’ “Owner of a Lonely Heart”, the Contours’ “Do You Love Me”, and the Romantics’ “Talking in Your Sleep” are peppered throughout. On first listen, these could be seen as shock picks, included to trip up the listener/dancer and maybe add an element of irony to the mix. But a second listen, or a really keen ear, shows a different purpose for such inclusions. Spank Rock are eager, it seems, to celebrate a wide-swath of music, and not be contained by the conventions of modern dance music. The shift into these more “retro” segments of the mix aren’t jarring at all, and in fact make for some of the best bits here. There isn’t any irony in including Yes; it just seems like the best fit for its space on the record.

All that being said, the standouts on Fabriclive 33 are pretty obvious. It might be surprising that Yes and the Romantics fare so well here, but it would seem hard to include them if Spank Rock hadn’t put the time in to mix them the way they did. After those, contributions from Daft Punk, Mylo, Hot Chip, and Tangerine Dream unsurprisingly shine. A remix of Metro Area’s “Orange Alert” by DFA, and Spank Rock’s own remix of CSS’ “Let’s Make Love and Listen to Death From Above” (a solid, understated improvement on the original) make for arguably the two best song on the whole album. All these typical hard-hitters eventually weigh the mix down a little, as the listener finds themselves waiting for the next DFA or Hot Chip or Mylo track. So, if the mix is meant to not only make you dance, but open you up to new dance and hip hop acts, it may fall short in that respect.

Fabriclive 33 is also not an album that really opens up questions and challenges assumptions about dance music. Or, rather, it does, but much in the same way acts like Girl Talk and Herbert and any good remix do. But to make that leap might be taking this mix too seriously. Give Spank Rock credit for giving us a whole chunk of brilliant ass-shake here. The execution is strong, and questions of innovation shouldn’t stand in the way of enjoying this record. If there is a point of interest in this record, it is how many different types of music inform Spank Rock’s own work. Something here -- though it may be tough to pinpoint exact moments -- lends some insight into Spank Rock’s brand of mad-scientist, mathematical hip hop. They show their influences to be many and varied and that is what, in the end, makes their music so rewarding. The same is true of this mix, so if you’ve got a house party coming up, pick up Fabriclive 33 and when you can’t bump The Sound of Silver or Night Ripper anymore, pop this in and watch the party keep on rocking, hard as ever.

7

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.


Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
Amazon

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less
7
Music

The World of Captain Beefheart: An Interview with Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx

Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx (photo © Michael DelSol courtesy of Howlin' Wuelf Media)

Guitarist and band leader Gary Lucas and veteran vocalist Nona Hendryx pay tribute to one of rock's originals in this interview with PopMatters.

From the opening bars of "Suction Prints", we knew we had entered The World of Captain Beefheart and that was exactly where we wanted to be. There it was, that unmistakable fast 'n bulbous sound, the sudden shifts of meter and tempo, the slithery and stinging slide guitar in tandem with propulsive bass, the polyrhythmic drumming giving the music a swing unlike any other rock band.

Keep reading... Show less

From Haircut 100 to his own modern pop stylings, Nick Heyward is loving this new phase of his career, experimenting with genre with the giddy glee of a true pop music nerd.

In 1982, Nick Heyward was a major star in the UK.

As the leader of pop sensations Haircut 100, he found himself loved by every teenage girl in the land. It's easy to see why, as Haircut 100 were a group of chaps so wholesome, they could have stepped from the pages of Lisa Simpson's "Non-Threatening Boys" magazine. They resembled a Benetton knitwear advert and played a type of quirky, pop-funk that propelled them into every transistor radio in Great Britain.

Keep reading... Show less

This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Keep reading... Show less
8

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow shines on her impressive interpretation of Fontella Bass' classic track "Rescue Me".

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow pays tribute to the classic Chicago label Chess Records on her new album Playing Chess, which was produced by Steve Greenberg, Mike Mangini, and the legendary Betty Wright. Unlike many covers records, LeGrow and her team of musicians aimed to make new artistic statements with these songs as they stripped down the arrangements to feature leaner and modern interpretations. The clean and unfussy sound allows LeGrow's superb voice to have more room to roam. Meanwhile, these classic tunes take on new life when shown through LeGrow's lens.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image