Akufen: Fabric 17

While not the eagerly-awaited follow-up to Akufen's micro-sampling masterwork My Way, Fabric 17 offers devotees a chance to hear Marc Leclair man the decks for a superb seventy-three minute micro-house set. He features no less than twenty-one artists representing labels like Ghostly, Perlon, Telegraph, Background Records, as well as his own Musique Risquée. Even though the session was recorded in one take using only a mixer and two turntables, you'd hardly know it from the masterful transitions Leclair executes throughout. Tracks bleed into one another, as opposed to one lazily fading out as another fades in. The smooth burbling bounce of Philippe Cam's “ LFO Drive,” for example, includes Matthew Dear's “Dog's Day (Pantytec Remix)” vocal long before Dear's own track formally begins. The sole awkward segue is from The Rip Off Artist's “Little Tiny Eight Inch Jack” into Senor Coconut's “Smoke On The Water,” but that's more attributable to the extreme stylistic contrast between them.

The sensibilities of the participants (who constitute a prototypical MUTEK festival lineup) complement Leclair's own. As such, it's sometimes difficult to know where Akufen ends and a featured artist begins; it's equally possible, for example, that Leclair influenced Pantytone's skittish “Alabaster” as it is the other way around. There's hardly a weak moment and highlights, like Krikor's funky minimal house (“1968 (Ark Remix)”) and Jeff Milligan's sensual grooves (“In My Life”), abound. The Wighnomy Brothers' (Robag Wruhme) “Bobb,” with its sheathed hi-hats, voice samples, and percussive pounds, matches the strengths of the excellent Wuzzelbud “KK,” and with “Ample Slacks,” Crackhaus constructs an incredible collage of micro-sampled scat singing and jazzy horns. Other highlights include S-max's slinky bass lines (“Red Fibreglass”), Ultrakurt's mellow swing (“M'Gell”), and the backwards vocal on Mossa's “Bucolik” that's like some euphoric melismatic chant. Cabanne, Herbert, Soul Center, and, as Horror Inc., Leclair himself also appear but the focus of this excellent mix is less Akufen than it is his multi-talented brethren.

October 2004