Global Communication: Fabric 26

The Herbaliser : FabricLive 26

The Fabric juggernaut rolls on with two predictably strong outings from Global Communication (Tom Middleton and Mark Pritchard) and The Herbaliser (Jake Wherry and Ollie Teeba). Though both draw from an oceanic expanse of new and old material, the former keeps its sights firmly turned towards the future while the latter pays tribute to earlier figures and current innovators.

How can any mix that opens with the supremely dope beat business of Dabrye's “No Child Of God” be anything but great? If the splattering lurch of Mr. Mullinix's clipped beats makes for a surprising downtempo start to Global Communication's set, that's assuredly part of the duo's master plan. Opening with innovative hip-hop (Tableek's “Serene Vision,” MED's “Now U Know”), soulful vocal house (Steve Spacek's “I'm Glad”), and deep electro-funk (Harmonic 313's “Arc Light”), the set's churning rhythm accelerates when it moves on to the gloriously exuberant future-soul of As One's (Kirk Degiorgio) “Rumours” and Solid Groove's “Flookin'.” Though the album's final third largely embraces soulful electro, the set concludes with AMBA's (Tom Middleton) lush “Margherita.” Don't miss the martial-funk groove that powers Danny Breaks' spacey “The Octopus (Intergalactic Starfighter)” and the neo-fusion synth breaks that jumpstart Jeremy Ellis's “86 (Verbs).”

Designed to be more a party than dance mix, The Herbaliser's wild set opens with lycanthropic ragga (Million Dan's “Dogz N Sledgez”) and hip-hop jazz (J-Sands of the Lone Catalysts' “Southern Lady”), choices that immediately declare the Ninja Tune vets' mix will be a different beast altogether. Though Wherry and Teeba include fresh cuts like Diplo's “Newsflash” and spotlight MCs like Yungun and Antoinette, they devote a significant portion of the set to early material (James Brown's “Talkin' Loud and Sayin' Nothing,” The Jackson 5's “It's Great To Be Here”) and old-school body rocking (Eric B. & Rakim's “Paid In Full,” Breakestra's “Family Rap”). The duo's 'loud and proud' mix breathlessly roars past in a smoked, hallucinatory swirl of maniacal scratching (Demon Boyz's “Glimity Glamity”) and fusion-funk (The Herbaliser's own “Gadget Funk”) with nods to Kraftwerk (“Trans-Europe Express) and The White Stripes (via Apathy's mashed riff on “Seven Nation Army”) even materializing along the way.

Consistent with the Fabric formula, there are superficial similarities between the discs—both clock in at about seventy minutes and feature upwards of twenty tracks each—but, stylistically, they couldn't be more different. Of course, some listeners will prefer Global Communication's future-groove electro-soul while others will lean towards The Herbaliser's old-school party vibe. Regardless, they're both credible additions to the series.

February 2006