Friction: FabricLive 70

Commenting on the approach he brought to his Fabric mix, Friction (Brighton-raised Ed Keeley) states that he designed it with the serious drum'n'bass listener in mind, the well-informed devotee who's been into the music for a long time. More pertinent is his summative statement, “Ultimately I've just tried to make it roll,” which is pretty much what this steamrolling set does for almost every one of its sixty-six minutes. Keeley himself is no newcomer to the scene, having been a stalwart since the early 2000s and now the head of his own label Shogun Audio. Known for utilizing multiple decks to mash up tracks on the fly, Keeley does so a number of times on the Fabric mix, such as when he drops DC Breaks' blazing “Swag” underneath Sam Wills' vocal from Optiv & BTK's “Understand VIP” at the start of the mix.

Generally speaking, it's a heavy set sprinkled with unreleased cuts and exclusive VIPs that Friction powers with writhing basslines and piledriving beats. Gaining flight, it thunders its way through cuts by Enei & Emperor (“Liberation”) and InsideInfo & Mefjus (“Mythos”) before easing into a slightly more soulful and melodic sequence courtesy of Nymfo (“Suddenly VIP”), a Calibre mix of Badmarsh & Shri's “Signs,” Villem & McLeod's “Another Star,” and AI's “You Can Dream.” But even when Keeley nudges the material into other zones (e.g., Total Science's atmospheric “Still Waiting,”), the mix rarely eases up on the furious attack captured so indelibly in stormers like Technimatic's “Intersection,” Icicle's “ Anxious,” and Rockwell's “Detroit.” A dramatic shift in tone does occur when Alix Perez's “Annie's Song” (featuring Sam Wills) surfaces halfway through to inject the mix with soulful, vocal-based R&B—even if the moment passes quickly when epic salvos by Dramatic (“Keep Pushing Me”) and Kove (“Searching”) follow fast on its heels and set the tone for the mix's final third.

It's easy to underappreciate Friction's dexterity when the mix is executed so smoothly and its transitions so seamlessly handled. Things happen fast, too, as only one of the thirty-one tracks is longer than three minutes, with most in the one- to two-minute range. To these ears, Friction's contribution to the FabricLive series sounds like an essential stopping point for the drum'n'bass die-hard, and a final word of praise goes out to Fabric for continuing to feature drum'n'bass artists in its release series rather than limiting its mixes to techno and house figures.

August-September 2013