We initially produced this article in April, deciding to hold onto it till we launched the new version of the Bonafide site. At the time we could not have fathomed that fabric — both a nightlife and cultural institution of London, and indeed the UK — would be shut down just months later. Everyone has a fabric story, partnerships, friendships, and even marriages – including a contributor to this very list – have began there and it is beyond sad that the club has been shut down due to questionable machinations. But it’s not to late to do something about it, head to the fabric blog to find out how you can help.
Update, fabric has been saved! Props to everyone who helped out.
There’s an inherent complexity and dichotomy in compiling a ‘best of’ list. In trying to pay homage to a selection of records from any given time period or genre, there will inevitably be those that miss the cut, and the ones that do, will be decried for one reason or another, such is the objective nature of the beast.
This task is made doubly hard when choosing the best records ever from an even vaster time frame, opening it up to even more criticism. But that didn’t stop us, we all pitched in and came together around a metaphorical table to exchange notes on the top ten mixes ever made for fabric’s legendary mix series (we included FabricLive in there to for the sake of argument).
Voices were raised, glasses were smashed in anger, friendships irrevocably damaged, but we’ve come to an agreement on the below selections which, whilst not maybe being a definitive list, nevertheless reflects the diverse nature of both mix series, as well as the tastes of our team of writers at Bonafide. Tuck in below.
fabric 01 – Craig Richards
Nobody encapsulates a mind bending Sunday morning spent in fabric’s room 1 quite like it’s very own musical director and original resident of 16 years, Craig Richards. Stripped back, trippy, dubby, this is groove heavy house and techno that ebbs and flows and is seamlessly mixed. The mix that kicked the whole series off, it still sounds fresh today. Richards has been the sound of fabric from day one, this is his timeless snapshot of the clubs lost hours.
fabric 11 – Swayzak
From the smoked out minimalism of Konrad Black, to the glitchy micro house genius of Akufen, through to an infectious remix of 80s new wave Thomas Dolby’s One of our Submarines, via the outrageous, elasticated baselines of Chicken Lips, to DFAs incredible reworking of proto disco dons Metro Areas Orange-every record selected by veteran electronic producers Swayzk is a certified winner. Original, quirky, dripping with melody and loaded with off kilter pop influences, this is the mix that proves that charm and impeccable track selection will always win the day over mixing ability.
fabric 55 – Shackleton
If the apocalypse was to ever come, Shackleton would surely be the man to soundtrack it. Comprised purely of his own productions, fabric 55 is arguably the most challenging of the series. The Skull Disco co-founder turns in an intense, claustrophobic, disorientating headphone trip through medative bass. Pitch-black tribal sounds collide with vacant other worldly voices, before twitchy, voodoo percussion weaves it’s way into the mix. Yet in amongst the darkness, there are shards of light. It’s this uneasy juxtaposition that makes for such a bewitching and strangely beautiful journey. Dark, moody and melodic, nobody makes music quite like Shackleton.
FabricLive 50 – DBridge & Instra:Mental Present Autonomic
dBridge and Instra:mental tore up the rule book with this one. The Autonomic brand, alongside the multi-layered podcasts, started off as a simple exploration into the influences of the pair. What resulted was the formation of a new sound, style and way of thinking about drum and bass music. Featuring R&B accapellas, a fierce Scuba remix (from before he went techno) and a handful of the pairs deepest dubs, this is definitely not one to be missed.
FabricLive 24 – Diplo
Way before Diplo became a parody of himself he cut a trailblazing figure for innovation as a DJ. As one half of Hollertronix, alongside DJ Low Budget, Diplo began a musical cause to unite disparate sounds, cultures and genres from baile funk through to grime, Southern rap and 80s synth pop. This may not sound too revolutionary now but back in the early 00s it was and FabricLive 24 was the crystallisation of those alchemic ideals. And that transition from Outkast’s B.O.B to Deceptacon by Le Tigre, oh my word.
FabricLive 37 – Caspa & Rusko
Legend has it that Justice originally put together the mix for FabricLive 37, but for conflicting reasons their contribution was, supposedly, rejected. This created an opportunity for a pair of young upstarts, Caspa & Rusko’s mix may not have the long lasting appeal of some of the other choices in this list but like the most important ones from the series it helped usher in a new sound in electronic music. The first all dubstep mix from fabric, what it lacked in subtly was made up for in sheer unadulterated skanking fun with a slew of Caspa and Rusko’s own productions alongside early scene essentials by Coki and Skream.
fabric 45 – Omar S
Few have had the sheer temerity to put together a fabric mix made up purely of their own productions. It takes a certain someone who is supremely gifted and sure of their own abilities; Shackleton is one, Riccardo Villalobos is another. When asked for his thoughts on these subjects, Omar S famously said that he didn’t have any idea who Villalobos was, it matters not as his fabric mix is arguably the best of the bunch. It’s a true tour de force of dance floor burners, from one of the game’s true masters.
FabricLive 56 – Pearson Sound / Ramadanman
At its best the fabric mix series has provided zeitgeist moments in electronic dance music in general, and UK bass music in particular – the Pearson Sound / Ramadanman canon is one such entry. Running parallel to the Hessle Audio label residency, FabricLive 56 is perhaps less sound, but more a scene defining mix of techno, grime and hints of world music (Tiyiselani Vomaseve – Vanghoma) some years before it became de rigueur in clubland. Truly essential listening.
FabricLive 59 – Four Tet
If Burial were to record a fabric mix, it would probably sound something like this. Dark and brooding, Four Tet‘s entry is a swan song to the UK’s club scene, focussing on tne 2-step and garage tracks that make up the backbone of noughties rave culture. It also features one of Kieran Hebden’s strongest productions to date, the timeless Pyramid.
fabric 63 – Levon Vincent
fabric 63 came at a moment when New York’s burgeoning house scene was just starting to pique interest around the world. Led by the inimitable and outspoken but ever brilliant Levon Vincent, his mix for fabric showcased all of the scene’s stars, including Joey Anderson, DJ Jus-Ed and Anthony Parasole.
Words: David Kane, Joel Harris, Lev Harris, Patrick Carter.
Illustration: Joshua Tinsley