Fabric 69 has to be the most dense and claustrophobic in the entire series. Previously, DJs such as Optimo, Metro Area and Swayzak weren’t above dropping a bit of Negativland, Fad Gadget, Xex, or even Ministry into their mixes, but it was all with an understanding of light and shade, matter and antimatter, Force and Dark Side. Basically, the mood music never came at the expense of dancefloor artillery. No matter how autre the selector, the journey was always one that even the most casual club goer could hook into.
But this latest installment in the Fabric series is mixed by Sandwell District.
Fabric 69 is cold and it is hard. It is techno that has forgotten its interface with house. It is industrial that cannot compute rock n roll.
Obviously, it’s brilliant. There’s slivers of Function, Raime, Vatican Shadow, Surgeon and Factory Floor. And there’s this, Regis’ version of Ike Yard’s 1982 coldwave classic, which Blackest Ever Black released as part of an ultra-limited 12″ EP last year.
This is music for grumpy dancers. It swaps screwface for scowlface. It is aloof, abstract, and vaguely menacing. JUST LIKE US.
No, just kidding. We’re lovely.
This is music for eyes just open enough to detect the chiaroscuro migraine of a strobe. When looking sexy has failed you, and a lurching zombie-like sway is the only proof that your body is still a device at your command.
You enter a white office with a metal desk. It takes you a few seconds to notice a man sitting behind the desk because he really feels like part of the furniture. A replicant, obviously. He starts droning:
“Welcome to the Weyland-Yutani Corporation recruitment Office. We are looking for pilots for our class Schumpeter ships and you look like one who would be up for that kind of pan-galactic adventuring.
Lovely sights: close to home, the vast vistas of new Mars, further away the tinkling fuzz of a pregnant nebula, a supernova that blinds like the new strobes at God’s own discotheque. Join us and you are guaranteed to become the soul of the dinner or the party.
And if you are one for sports, remember that the Schumpeter class is equipped with a squadron of fighter drones armed with nuclear warheads, six gun-pods, high-bandwidth info-system infiltrators and a space marine fire-team straight out of your most shameful teenage White Dwarf fantasies.
Although the primary function of the Schumpeter is freight between the planet branches of Weyland-Yutani, all of this hardware means you can start a bit of creative destruction of your own if anyone attempts to contest our markets.
What do you say kid, are the stars your destination, or what?
You say yes of course [We know we should have given you the choice given the nature of this whole exercise but COME ON].
You are sedated and mag-levitated into an operations theatre where a smiling-eyed team of surgeons pump you with all sorts of synthetic liquids. They remove several key bones of your skeleton and drill sockets in your spine and wrists. They extirpate your eyes. By the time they are done with you, you look like the chrysalis for a future race evolved in a forlorn exoplanet.
You are now the ship navigator, submerged in a vat of amniotic fluid. You are the nervous system of this Schumpeter Class-system bad-boy christened by a Christian Bale lookalike in the orbital docks. They call you SOPHISTICATED BOOM BOOM.
Soon enough, you realise your body is great for partying. In Space, there’s nobody to complain about the noise. The colours are great, and so is the invisible rainbow of powerful radiations seeping through your shields. The strange behaviours and antics of the crew inside you make you buzz. In particular, there’s this gang of Jamaican ex-pats who have read too much William Gibson and Sufi literature. They garland your Syd Mead corridors with hydroponic gardens, and shimmy through them banging the walls with sticks of smart nano-materials. You spread the virus of neo-calypso through the Orion Arm of this Galaxy.
Space battling, privateering and fending off pirates are all variants of romance, seduction and sex.
We’ll spare you clichés inspired by the lewd remarks graffitied in the tip of your mass destruction ordnance, and what happens to your weird vital sequences when that ordnance hits the target. Ditto when it’s the other way around.
But when you cast your flotilla of fighters and the volume of space you can parse expands by an order of x106 , and you have to be supported by a coterie of muscular AIs to cope with the avalanche of feelings pumping down your every nerve, it’s like being rid by demons summoned by a fucked-up gang of Nobel prizes. You love it.
There is also great satisfaction in the day to day routine of moving matter across astounding distances, being a responsible sprite in the complex system that keeps the economy, the society and the culture of a thousand words pumping along just fine and dandy. As you go down the learning curve, your actions become more efficient, supple and graceful, the skeleton of a happy house where you are pure movement.
But of course there is a coda for your ballet through the playground of humanity: you cannot stay there forever, you need to go beyond. You bide your time, and your time comes: Excession. An inexplicable and intractable object arrives at Perseus, a ball of pure no-information acting as a magnet for cranks, treasure-hunters, You. A confederacy of weirdoes converge upon this thing.
You gaze at it like one gazes at the abyss, and the thing gazes back, you feel its ‘sight’ arriving from a new dimension, and in an inversion of Heisenberg’s principle, its attention carries a message, a gestalt snapshot of a place of pure colours where mercy is a meaningless idea because all things communion as one. You are necessarily drawn in by its infinite strength.
As you accelerate past the outer boundaries of its event horizon, you shed more and more metal until you are reduced to pure soul.
First of all, we were very upset about the passing of Iain M. Banks. Rest in peace/mess up with morally lagging civilisations from your newly sublimed position Mr. Banks.
The ship is by Chris Foss of course.
Ike Yard was featured in Sandwell District’s ace 69 Fabric mix = Giedi Prime foreman’s favourite sounds to whip their drones into a productivity frenzy.
With their second 12’’ in Optimo, Golden Teacher explored the different paths through which percussive rattling can bring about the singularity.
Meanwhile, Blondes’Swisher took us into some sort of ecstasy space which is like all of the best bits about a Sonar rave at 5am, if such events made you a better person.
We have been waiting for Factory Floor’salbum for years now, and it sure delivers. Each of its songs – hold on, each of the shards of sound within each of its songs – is structurally perfect like some sort of new composite custom-made to undergird environments whose single purpose is to Jack.
Oh, and we never made it back from Carter Tutti’s techno-mass at Heaven.