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The 10 best fabric mix CDs

As the series comes to a close, we pick out the highlights

  • Patrick Hinton
  • 30 June 2018

There are few rubber stamps of quality more assured than the fabric mix CD. It's a career highlight for any DJ honoured with the request to put one together, and the series has consistently produced definitive mixes that are held up as classics.

The London club recently announced the 100th instalment would mark the end of the series "in its current form", signalling the end of an era for a staple of dance music for over 16 years. With a discography stretching back to November 2001, the influence of both the fabric and FabricLive mix CDs is incalculable, introducing many to styles of dance music for the first time and providing timeless insights into the sound of many artists at their peak. In light of the series coming to a close, we decided to compile our standout moments.

Ricardo Villalobos ‘fabric 36’

The Chilean maestro Riccy V made a statement in piecing together his instalment in the series entirely from his own productions and collaborations. Unfolding across the course of 15 tracks, the mix comprises multiple pieces of music, but it feels like one flowing production. Fuelled by the subtle ebb and flow of metallic-sprung minimal elements, complemented with trippy vocal samples, ‘fabric 36’ is a paragon of hypnotic precision.

Shackleton ‘fabric 55’

Shackleton conjures such vivid atmospheres with his music. From the opening beat of reverb-soaked, hand-hit percussive sounds rolling through swelling outer textures, his ‘fabric 55’ mix grips the listener and pulls them on a thrilling ride. He shows a mastery of tension control, keeping the energy at the perfect level of simmering across the 21-track runtime while allowing the music to spiral out on compelling, sometimes unsettling tangents.

Levon Vincent ‘fabric 63’

New York native Levon Vincent’s contribution to the series is a slick, rolling tribute to the US’ North Eastern house scene. Exclusively featuring tracks from Vincent and his regional peers (Joey Anderson, Jus-Ed, JM De Frias, DJ Qu, Anthony Parasole and Fred P), the mix rides along grooves traversing sleek deep house to throbbing techno with supreme confidence. Put your headphones in and stick this on, and you’re immediately transported 5am in the pit of an East Coast dancefloor.

Cassy ‘fabric 71’

Opening with stark drum hits rattling beneath a monologue declaring the power of rhythm with bold and blunt assertiveness, ‘fabric 71’ sets out its stall early on and delivers on its promise. Across the mix Cassy traverses an engrossing blend of pulsating records. Even in its most exultant moments a sense of intricacy is etched into the nucleus of the sounds present in ‘fabric 71’, reflective of Cassy’s expertise in tackling a big room approach with a minimal sensibility.

Nina Kraviz ‘fabric 91’

Nina Kraviz packed a whopping 41 tracks into her 80 minute mix. The effect is an exhilarating excursion through an array of sounds. There’s an element of irresistible chaos to the mix, and it’s probably the instalment in the series that feels most like actually being in a club. Kraviz barrels through stylistic shifts with reckless abandon. It feels vibrant and loose, while also challenging and intricate - a striking emblem of Nina Kraviz’s free spirit.

Marcus Intalex ‘FabricLive.35’

‘FabricLive.35’ is strong evidence of why Marcus Intalex is one of the best to ever do it in the drum ‘n’ bass realm and his legacy will live long in the memory. It’s a flawless mix, brimming with emotion and feeling while equally danceable with percussion rolling boldy through the foundation. One moment you’re on the verge of tears as vocals float hauntingly above the fray, and next limbs are sent into overdrive as jungle rinse outs power to the fore. RIP Marcus, you are missed.

Caspa & Rusko ‘FabricLive.37’

This mix is historic. It’s of its time, but an ecstatic snapshot into the period and the soundtrack to many fresh-faced dance fans getting swept up in the dubstep wave. It marked the first dubstep instalment in the series, and after easing in with tracks featuring wistful sax tones and dub vocals, the unmistakable arrival off Caspa’s ‘The Terminator’ six tracks in sets the mix down a path of ferocious bassline wobs, dark percussion and all manner of gun finger-raising, screwface-inducing sounds. “Hold tight rudeboy!”.

Pearson Sound / Ramadanman ‘FabricLive.56’

When it comes to a focus on percussive-led bangers there’s few DJs out there that can match David Kennedy aka Pearson Sound aka Ramadanman for rhythmic excellence. His sets palpitate, with enthralling beats surging through the core and raising listener’s heart rates. On ‘FabricLive.56’ the Hessle Audio honcho impressively swells through stylistic shifts without ever losing a strong sense of momentum.

Jackmaster ‘FabricLive.57’

Is there a DJ on the planet better at getting a party started than Jackmaster? On ‘FabricLive.57’ dance music’s finest floor filler fired on all cylinders, stitching together new, old and unreleased music into a 28-track vibes juggernaut. Whether it’s your first or hundredth listen, the addictive ride of a mix always fuels the same feelings of euphoric hype. Opening up with a funk and house classics one-two (‘Release Yourself’ into ‘Big Fun’ (Magic Juan Remix)) and closing on Skepta’s grime bars slamming into Radiohead’s alternative rock masterpiece ‘Idioteque’, the mix is relentlessly adventurous - and relentlessly fun.

Flava D ‘FabricLive.88’

Flava D affirmed her position at the forefront of the UK bass scene with ‘FabricLive.88’. She produced or co-produced the majority of the 30-strong tracklist, simultaneously forming a raucous showcase of her skills in the studio and behind the decks. Merging dizzyingly sweet UKG with unstoppable bassline and grime anthems, the CD is a headrush of a mix and triumph of the distinct style Flava D has carved out.

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