Carl Craig: Fabric 25

James F!@#$%^ Friedman: Go Commando

What sustains and re-invigorates the Fabric juggernaut is its diverse pool of contributors, the label's doors equally open to left-field innovators and Detroit legends like Carl Craig. James F!@$%^ Friedman, on the other hand, cultivates first and foremost a party rather than pure dance vibe by commingling underground pop and rock elements with hip beats and futuristic electro-synths.

As masterfully executed as one would expect from the one-time Derrick May apprentice and Planet-E Communications head, Craig fashions an impassioned future-soul travelogue that liberally draws from funk, jazz, house, and techno. Following a brief Ying Yang Twins intro, Craig's own “Angel (Caya Dub)” formally inaugurates the set with showers of reverberant handclaps before Trickski's “Sweat” and Kerri Chandler's “Bar A Thym” stoke the pumping Latin-soul-funk groove; dig also the bright guitar juju of Africanism's “Imbalaye” and the entrancing stomp of “Most Precious Love (DF Future 3000 Instrumental)” by Blaze's UDA (Underground Dance Artists United For Life) and then surrender to the swirling spirals of Soundstream's spellbinding “3rd Movement.” Dark synths slither and quiver in Craig's penultimate “Darkness” before Tokyo Black Star's jacking “Blade Dancer (Dixon Edit).” Personalized by his own occasional interjections and goosed by handclaps and whoops, Craig crafts a maximal soul-funk vibe that rolls on for seventy-three euphoric minutes.

A party vibe of a different though no less energized sort infuses New Yorker James F!@$%^ Friedman's Go Commando DJ mix, something declared at the outset by The Rapture/Hushhush's remix of “Me Plus One.” Annie's voice is chopped into stuttering spirals, as a chugging beat and bleeping synths establish an electro-rave spirit that will persist throughout. The Rapture/Hushhush return for an electro-schaffel overhaul of Who Made Who's “Space for Rent (Remix)”, the song's serpentine vocal hook offset by hammering mechano beats, while “Pocket Calculator” synths sparkle throughout the Italo strut of Tomboy's “Maggie & Samira.” The focus of Friedman's mix is songs, not grooves, hence the emphasis on vocal-based pop (Freeform Five's “Eeeeaaooww,” Photocall's “Silver Clouds”) and indie-rock (Bloc Party's “Like Eating Glass (Black Strobe Mix),” Tom Vek's “Nothing but Green Lights (Kaos Mix)”), though he does broaden the palette with Zombi's nine-minute synth wonderland “Sapphire.” Friedman boldly reshapes some material but wisely leaves Out Hud's marvelous “It's For You” intact. Culling material from funk, techno, rock, electro, and even disco genres, the DJ's less concerned with seamless transitions than pumping out one jubilant jam after another.

December 2005