Fabric is a heaving, writhing mass of sweaty bodies tonight, the almost daunting array of massive names on the line-up bringing the revellers in droves. With Pearson Sound, Pangaea, Jackmaster and, erm, Randall (more on that later) heading up room one, Oneman's Fabriclive 64 launch in room two, and dBridge playing for five hours in room three (!), this one was always going to be just a little bit special.
Knowing which side our bread is buttered, we head first to see Darren White smashing things up right from the off in room 3. With such a lengthy set time and considering the rest of tonight's programming, you perhaps would imagine he'd begin on an autonomic tip and work his way up to more conventional drum and bass sounds later on. Never an easy one to predict, dBridge actually does the exact opposite. Starting things off on a typically d'n'b vibe, he rolls out the likes of Spectrasoul's Light in the Dark and his own sublime Since We've Been Apart, with later visits to the room revealing a far more experimental, half-beat lean.
It's then on to room two for man of the moment Oneman's turn to bring the beats. Unfortunately, despite getting ridiculously hyped when he drops Kanye West's Mercy as his opener, it's almost unbearably crowded in there. The bottleneck nature of Fabric's second room provides a constant stream of people pushing to get in or out and very little room for actual dancing. We take our leave pretty quickly from our terrible position at the side, absolutely gutted to miss out on what was, according to those who could stand to stay, a predictably brilliant set from one of the freshest DJs around right now.
Putting our disappointment aside and after a quick soiree into dBridge's beat cave, we then head to the main room to catch the last few tunes of Pearson Sound's selection, and then Jackmaster's turn to move people's feet. He's up to the task right from the the word go, starting things off with classic house number "Work It To The Bone" and then ploughing through a breathless mixture of old house, techno and garage cuts, fresh UK bass tunes with the odd dubstep classic thrown in for good measure. The highlight for me has to be Martyn's remix of TRG's Broken Hearts, a rare moment of tranquility in a frenetic hour of beats.
Last to grace the Fabric stage is Randall. At first glance, this may seem like an odd choice for a Hessle Audio-curated room, with the label not renowned for pushing anything above 140 bpm. However, Ben UFO (sadly not on the bill tonight) is actually a huge fan of the jungle stalwart and has spoken at great length about how listening to Randall's old sets informed his own DJing style, with his Never Went To Bluenote set on Boiler Room a fitting tribute to this golden era of breakbeat.
Anyway, Randall is not renowned as such a fearsome selector for nothing and his old school set is an absolute monster, a rip-roaring lesson in drum and bass history. The way the drums thump together in the mix is so forceful, a reminder of when jungle was seemingly the future of electronic music and everything else felt staid and outdated. For one hour only, and for those (like this reviewer) not old enough to witness it the first time, it almost feels like Fabric had been transported through time and space to a certain spot in Hoxton, circa 1996. For giving us the opportunity to hear these tunes, mixed so expertly and on such an amazing soundsystem, I really can't thank Hessle Audio enough.
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