Showcasing the breadth of a record collection does not necessarily make a great mix CD.
The Belgian duo the Glimmers have been around for a long time, but it's difficult to nail down a characteristic sound to the group that's perhaps most defined by their eclecticism. In a way the group should be a good fit for the monthly Fabriclive series, which has been concerned recently with fun over coherence or a particular style. But it's unfortunate that the group's emphasis on showcasing their wide range of musical dalliance overshadows the more basic, and more important, considerations of a mix CD on their entrant into the otherwise impressive Fabriclive series.
By way of serving the variety of the mix itself, I'm going to offer my thoughts on Fabriclive.31 by way of a short list.
1. Overall, the tenor of the mix is more headphone than club, as evidenced by the obligatory British-accented spoken word sample of Fingerprintz' "Wet Job". The track selection is geared towards big statements –- the songs with enough melodic or rhythmic heft to move a dancefloor into action.
2. Kicking things off on an upbeat note, the disc opens with the Glimmers' own remix of Roxy Music's "Same Old Scene"; it's unashamedly backwards-looking, recreating the whole funky bassline/orchestral atmosphere thing in a knowing way. An effective opening.
3. The Glimmers' own track is an early highlight, taking an electro base and slowly adding techno elements, a quick-morph into Prins Thomas' straighter techno beat, chugging and relentlessly driving forward. This section of the disc is hardly sophisticated, but there's something refreshing in its utter contempt of minimalism, through the incorporation of back-placed percussive effect and disrupted vocals.
4. No mix released today is really complete without a bit of crunchy electro, and early on, the duo makes like they're about to oblige (the beginning of the third track) before dropping out in favour of battling horn psychedelica and pre-trance house.
5. But those whispered or disaffected male vocals that appear on Pop Dell'Arte's "No Way Back", I'm wondering if they're a little played out by now. We've been subjected all through last year to the same thing from brash female vocalists from Tiga to the Rapture, and we may be due for something a bit more innovative.
6. Finally, there's a more mundane complaint: a couple of times over the course of the mix the track changes are irredeemably abrupt. First between the Holy Ghost and Sons and Daughters, and then quickly between Neal Howard and the Freddie Mercury track, the mix feels like it's orienting and reorienting itself without a strong idea of where it wants to go. The final tracks illustrate this well, with quick jumps from pots-n-pans freakout to techno-jazz to surf rock with no sense of earned juxtaposition.
Though there are definite highlights (including some unexpectedly glorious throwback moments) on this disc, and though it's clear that the Glimmers know how to select a track that will galvanize a dancefloor, this has to count as one of the less successful recent Fabric discs. The course of the mix slides from standard fare ('80s and electro) to less trendy techno/house sounds and even dub and surf-rock, too, but in a disconnected, splintering way. The Glimmers may have convinced us, after listening to Fabriclive 31, that they have an impressive record collection, but they just haven't managed to parlay that into a cohesive mix album.