“I mixed Fabriclive94: feels quite surreal,” reads Midland’s Twitter feed. Self-confessed fabric disciple Harry Agius skims his two-penneth into the mix series canon after years spent knocking about with Ramadaman, Bicep and Pariah, and touching down at Aus Music and Phonica.
With a declaration of there being “no defined start or end point”, volume 94 has all the elements, but would be better suited for something nearing three hours long than the 75 minutes Midland has to play with (never mind the inferred infinite loop). That feeling of being anticipatory and on the cusp (much like Steffi’s recent bow for fabric) gets into a full-on gallop coming up to an hour in – and it’s a supreme burst as well, minimal, stacked techno, brisk tribalism and unwavering lightning bolts from Ben Buitendijk, Santos Rodriguez and Slobban. Even though true momentum comes late in the day, Midland doesn’t simply ride it out to a conclusion, a worldly sedative dispatched back into the throng until eventually you can hear a widescreen pin drop.
An opening period of deep/sunken house and techno depicting jittery fractals, futuristic visions both boldly going into the unknown and hanging back with unease, is Midland paving the way for the mix to kick on. Glows are both eerie and welcoming, the vibe both impish and muscular. Then, by way of Roman Flügel’s ‘Warm & Dewy’ and Kowton’s ‘Pea Soup’, Midland shows he can turn on a sixpence with the entry of the contradictorily serrated peace-seeker, dropped into the pit of spikes provided by Farah’s ‘Lockhead’ and followed by an insertion of the always marmite monologue, courtesy of Divine Styler narrating Mr Hazeltine’s mix of Mannequin Lung.
There is a defining (and high-definition) period where the mix becomes less interactive, a little noodlier, and more prey to a mass observing sway. The tracks fit – it’s not like the crossfader is being pulled wildly – but the exploratory nature of the mix will leave you caught in a re-spawn. A double-edged sword of waiting for a payoff that to all intents and purposes is there, but never materialises, and Midland being his own man and formulating a mix that runs parallel to the fabric brand where you should never settle.
Words: Matt Oliver
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