Fabriclive 96

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AllMusic Review by Paul Simpson

Skream was easily one of the biggest stars of dubstep's initial explosion during the 2000s -- "Midnight Request Line" is still regarded as one of the genre's signature tunes, and both his remix of La Roux's "In for the Kill" and his involvement with supergroup Magnetic Man helped further dubstep's mainstream success. He's never confined himself to one genre, however, and much of his activity during the 2010s has strayed far from his initial sound. While his first two mix CDs (Rinse: 02 and Watch the Ride) were more or less purist dubstep exercises, he began incorporating house, disco, techno, and electro into his subsequent DJ sets, and he split a double mix CD with U.K. dance radio staple Pete Tong in 2013. Skream's installment of the Fabriclive series begins with an abstract jazz track from Hieroglyphic Being, Sarathy Korwar, and Shabaka Hutchings before launching into a near-seamless mix of steadily flowing house tracks. He seems way more focused on presenting the music itself rather than showing off any fancy mixing techniques, so the songs are allowed to ride out for up to nine minutes each, smoothly flowing into the next. Much of it is taken up by hypnotic tech-house with mild buildups, but nothing too dramatic. Skream himself contributes two original productions: the slightly funky disco-house banger "An Ode to Mr. Smith" and the more epic "SDN." While much of the first half of the mix seems pretty steady, the second half gets a bit more fired-up and unhinged, starting with Floorplan's gospel-house stormer "Made Up in My Mind." Radio Slave's "Screaming Hands [Tuff City Kids 'Krautdrums' Mix]" has a harder kick drum and copious amounts of delay spreading its simple U.K. garage-esque melody around. Following some more tracks that tip toward starry progressive house, Skream drops some first-class neo-electro with Steve Murphy's "They Are Controlled, Pt. 1," which is followed by LA Synthesis' "Agraphobia," an overlooked mid-'90s techno classic that seems to have escaped canonization simply by not being released on a high-profile label such as Warp. Fabriclive 96 seems somewhere in between a club set and a home-listening mix, rarely heading for crowd-pleasing peaks and ultimately ending up more cerebral than it might initially seem.

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