Fabriclive 61, the most recent release under the ‘Fabriclive’ moniker is, to echo an opinion this reviewer voiced in an earlier article appraising Fabric 61, a clear demonstration of the unevenness of this particular series. Whereas releases within its sister series (simply, Fabric), which are also released on the same label, are critically considered to be generally consummately constructed and consistently interesting and vibrant, with Fabriclive, it seems that commissioned DJs are suffering from a lack of significant direction or, to a larger extent, quality control.
Perhaps conversely to this sentiment, on the surface, the record looks extremely promising. Fabriclive 61 is mixed by dubstep and bass music virtuoso, Pinch (otherwise known as Rob Ellis). Ellis is perhaps best known for his 2007 album Underwater Dancehall, which, since its release, has been consistently lauded and praised by critics and fans alike. Furthermore, he collaborated with previously little known artist Shackleton on 2011’s experimental Pinch & Shackelton long play, considered by many publications to be the best dubstep release of last year. However, despite his wide range of credentials, on Fabriclive 61, Pinch disappoints an expectant fan-base.
…the genre variation is almost too distracting.
As a general rule, track choice is key to making a mix of this style successful, i.e. one that includes very little original composition. Furthermore, at a glance, the selections look vigorous and dynamic, ranging from efforts by dubstep pioneers such as Goth-Trad and Roska to the more dubby-techno sound offered by artists such as Henry & Louis feat. Prince Green (who themselves have had their track reworked by the eponymous Pinch). However, this breadth of genre choice often works against Ellis throughout the record. The core aspect that must be spot on within these mixes is direction and theme and Fabriclive seems to lack both of these abundantly. The cross-fading and mixing is generally good and one can almost discern what the DJ has attempted to create, i.e. a melodic house first half contrasted with an altogether more ‘bassy’ and aggressive second half, however, the genre variation is almost too distracting. The record ends up feeling disjointed and seeming to lack a consistent or at least unifying pace.
The mix comes across as extremely flat – lacking any exposition, unification of style or understanding of the importance of pacing in what should be a particularly high energy record. To be candid, this comes as a great disappointment to this reviewer considering the evocative and inimitable nature of Ellis’ previous output. Finding your own identity behind the decks is the DJ’s main tool in engaging an audience and Ellis, on Fabriclive 61 seems to have lost his somewhere within the maelstrom of the bastardised and frustratingly vague ‘genre’ that is “UK Bass”.