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John Digweed - Fabric 20 Print E-mail
Monday, 28 February 2005

John Digweed  
format: 16-Bit Stereo CD
label: Fabric Records
release year: 2004
performance: 9.0
sound 8.0
reviewed by: Paul Lingas

Image The twentieth compilation release from famed London dance/mix hall Fabric, Number 20 features the stylings of well-known mixer John Digweed. Featuring over 70 minutes of music, this is only one of two discs that Fabric sends out each month, each release comprised of the guest and resident DJ’s mixes. They send out their FABRICLIVE and Fabric compilations once a month, alternating between the two. This particular 14-track disc has DJ Rasoul, Slam, Superpitcher and others, all worked and picked out by John Digweed with an occasional hand from one of his friends. This is a truly sublime dance album and it does nothing but amp up the reputation of Fabric as being one of London’s (and indeed the world’s) best dance/mix clubs.

A DJ whose roots began in Hastings, England, Digweed has made inroads throughout the world, having played on various continents and currently enjoying his time as part of a weekly radio show that can be heard in America, Europe and Africa. While he obviously admits to loving his job as a DJ, Digweed has remarked that he prefers not to be put in the spotlight when he’s working, enjoying it more when the lights of a club play across the floor and not into his booth. Well, with this mix, you don’t need any lights or smoke or even people to feel the energy contained within the music. One doesn’t even need to close one’s eyes to see the bodies moving and the lights pulsing to the beats he throws out. Possessing the ability to change tempos, styles, references and moods without sacrificing a driving push to kick beats, Digweed presents a brilliant set on this disc. While each track can be listened to separately, they are blended together in such a way that there are no breaks in between, so if you want to be sure what track number you’re on, you had best look at the CD player.

Pete Moss’ “Strive to Live” begins things with a subtle kick, allowing those hip muscles to loosen up before moving with greater force into its latter half and then on to a relentlessly-paced take on Adam Johnson’s “Traber.” Anyone who has deejayed or has any aspirations to become one should listen to how a master like Digweed progresses his sets. He understands how to build and release the tension within and between each track while never allowing the energy to leave. Any DJ/mixer’s goal should be to keep everyone on the dance floor throughout their set, no matter how hot, tired or thirsty they may get.

If there is any inkling that Digweed would slow things down as the set finishes out, that is put to absolute seizure-inducing rest with the frantically enticing renditions of Superpitcher’s “Happiness” (mixed by Michael Mayer) and Joel Mull’s “Emico,” both of which drive hard toward the finish line with blends of kicking beats, abrasive electronics and an ability to put a sort of ethereal trance into what are simultaneously perhaps the most frenetic tracks on the whole disc.

To say that Digweed is famous for lush, engulfing frequencies that move through a mix in waves (as it says on the Fabric site) is to pin the tail on the spotted donkey. Digweed builds, softens, rebuilds, tears down and then blends his sounds into an amazing set that not only screams taste in terms of selection, but also in terms of execution of each track to its fullest potential and an ability to provide peaks and valleys without compromising the innate desire of the listener to dance until there’s no more Red Bull at the bar or in the backpack. John Digweed’s Fabric 20 can be played at parties, as a pick me up, or simply as background music during your favorite or least favorite activity.

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