The joy of listening to any Fabric live mix is not knowing exactly what you’ll get – it’s a chance for producers or DJs to show off the depth of their influences as well as their skills on the decks, and sometimes it brings a few surprises. And for two of the more recent contributors to the series – hello Ricardo Villalobos and Omar S – it’s an opportunity to buck the usual Fabric trend and play nothing but their own music.
For Montreal-based DJ and turntablist A-Trak (aka Alain Maklovitch), this mix is an opportunity to showcase the music that’s inspired him throughout the last 12 years of his career, and as a five-time winner of the DMC World DJ Championship we know he has the technical skills to back it up. The album opens with a mix of A-Trak’s own -Say Whoa’ and DJ Sneak’s -You Can’t Hide from Your Bud’, and the lyrics – -‘we hear the bass and we say woah” – could serve as a cheesy metaphor for what we should expect in the following 24 tracks.
My initial fear was that this heavy electro vibe could end up dominating the mix, with other genres barely getting a look-in, resulting in something that only a Modeselektor fan could appreciate. Thankfully however, A-Trak manages to touch on old-school house (Robbie Rivera, DJ Sneak), modern house tracks (Rob Threezy), electro (Metronomy), electronic-orientated indie (a remixed Friendly Fires), disco-funk (Parliament Funkadelic as remixed by Daft Punk) and a smidgin of techno (Zombie Nation) along the way, moving through a range of decades and genres and keeping the mood undulating smoothly.
Highlights of the mix include Voodoo Chilli’s funky disco jam -Get On Down’, which slams onto the brakes to make way for the lovely African vibe of the house version of Skepta’s -Sweet Mother’; Erol Alkan’s extended re-edit of nu-disco duo Fan Death’s -Veronica’s Veil’ – which would have you believe this current band were formed before disco went global, and not the new millennium; Rob Threezy’s -The Chase’, a house track from the young Chicago producer that takes more than a few nods from electro and disco and features an -atmospheric’ wailing police siren; and the slamming -Body Jackin” by Jamie Anderson & Content.
While the mix of genres is essential for keeping listeners at home and on the dancefloor happy, one of the more jarring aspects to the mix is the brevity of the tracks – at times it feels as though you’ve barely sunk your teeth into the meat of one track before the bassline of the next is already pulsing its way through. Perhaps it’s his career as a turntablist that keeps him focusing on the swift changes, but those who like a smooth overlay may find the staccato feel a bit too much at times.
Of course, it’s nothing unusual for producers or DJs to create mixes that touch on numerous – or even disparate – genres. But the true test is whether they can create a mix that manages to flow through the different sounds without being too obvious, and that can create an atmosphere that moves smoothly and keeps the listeners’ attention throughout. With his Fabric live mix, A-Trak has succeeded in this – but perhaps appeals to those who like their electro hard and heavy more than it would to house or disco fans.