Various Artists – FabricLive 24, Diplo
Now in their 24th instalment, the ongoing parallel Fabric and Fabriclive DJ mix series show no sign of slowing, with this latest volume of Fabriclive falling upon the capable shoulders of feted Philadelphia electro / hiphop producer Diplo (certainly one of this year’s most talked-about figures, thanks to his production and tour DJ involvement with M.I.A.’s ‘Arular’ album and recent remixes for the likes of Beck and Gwen Stefani). Sitting a considerable distance away from the downbeat swap-infused instrumental hiphop experiments of his stunning debut album of last year ‘Florida’, this Fabriclive mix instead focuses upon Diplo’s skills as a party DJ, whilst also giving a considerable insight into his diverse and non-genre specific musical tastes – indeed, Le Tigre, The Cure and Cat Power all make appearances amongst this 26 track selection alongside the more expected hiphop and electro influences such as Juan Atkins, Freestyle and Ludicris.
Things certainly start on a strong note straight out of the starting gate, with the sunny Latin RNB / pop vocals of Nina Sky’s ‘Turnin’ Me On’ gliding effortlessly in a way that sits perfectly with the fluid instrumental barrio funk of Plantlife’s ‘Love 4 The World’, before the icy synths and electro handclaps of Killer Mike feat. Big Boi’s ‘My Chrome’ injects some b-boy swagger, Cybotron’s classic ‘Clear’ locking into the clicking electro beats perfectly with its weirdly pitch-shifted vocoder voices and Kraftwerkian samples. Following a brief divergence into cheesy eighties synth-pop that verges on the sickly-sweet at points, with obscure US electro pop vocalist Debbie Deb and Yazoo’s ‘Don’t Go’ both making appearances, there’s a smooth icy glide through some of electro’s classic moments (Freestyle’s ‘Don’t Stop The Rock’ and Hashim’s ‘Al-Naafiysh’, Model 500’s ‘Nightdrive’), before the stuttering breakbeats and bizarre slowed-down vocals of Aphex Twin’s ‘Windowlicker’ propel things on into the hydraulic house rhythms of Cajmere’s ‘Percolator.’ Solid Groove’s relentlessly robotic and LFO-esque ‘This Is Sick’ collides head-on with the sped-up clattering dancehall and mammoth bass drops of their parallel outing as Switch with Jamaican MC Miss Thing (a standout highlight of Wall Of Sound’s ‘Two Culture Clash’ project of last year), shortly before Ludacris feat. Shawna’s shagging anthem ‘What’s Your Fantasy’ gets dragged through all manner of digital processing in a exclusive Diplo ‘version’, clicking stripped-down hiphop beats making their way like sewing machines beneath Ludacris’ bedroom exhortations.
Diplo’s own fantastic collaboration with Brazilian vocalist Pantera Os Danadinhos ‘Percao’ (one of the highlights of his ‘Florida’ album) pushes the electro pulse back to the forefront, with clicking breakdance rhythms making their way beneath waspy synths and bicycle chain samples ripped straight from Kraftwerk’s ‘Tour De France’, before things enter an extended bracket of South American dance-pop that takes in the beat-box vocals and smoky brass of Gaiola Das Popozudas’ ‘Vem Cristiano’ and rolling congas of MC Joe’s ‘Melo Do Piddle Le He He’ along the way. An exclusive remix of Diplo’s ‘Way More’ that speeds the original’s flanging synth grooves and vast bass drops up to dancefloor tempo meshes perfectly with the vocal from M.I.A.’s ‘Bucky Done Gun’ to stellar effect, flowing perfectly into the angular Eski beats and pensive garage MC rhymes of Jammer’s ‘Destruction VIP.’ While dropping The Cure’s gloomy pop offering ‘Love Song’ directly into the mix at this point certainly drops a hint to Diplo’s wide-ranging tastes, it’s perhaps the one significant miss-step this mix makes over its entire duration, with Robert Smith’s distinctive wail and Simon Gallup’s guitars sitting uncomfortably and somewhat mystifyingly between Jammer’s grimy two-step and the furious sped-up proto-jungle of Outkast’s ‘B.O.B.’ (though it does segue rather fluidly into the latter). Le Tigre’s wiry electro-punk guitars and edged vocals on ‘Deceptacon’ segue cleanly into one final wander through icy electro rhythms courtesy of DJ Nasty’s ‘Hurricane’ and sped-up rave influenced vocals of DJ Deeon’s ‘Freaks’, before Cat Power’s acoustic guitar laden ‘Free’ offers a chilled out dose of loose-limbed indie rock right at the end, Power’s multitracked vocals clinging tightly to stripped-down drums, wheezing organs and some surprisingly spiky guitar chords.
A wide-ranging and diverse mix offering that provides considerable insight into Diplo’s eclectic musical tastes, with the main focus being upon crafting an enjoyable selection that flows rather than straitjacketing itself into the tyranny of perfectly smooth mixes. While some recent offerings from the two parallel Fabric series have been slightly on the ropey side, this latest excursion from Diplo shows the series taking a considerably stronger turn, with the end result resembling a particularly strong mixtape of what are obviously a list of Diplo’s favourite moments, whether they be dancehall, indie rock or electro in origin. Downright enjoyable.
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