The October full moon is here, it is the weekend of the Orionid meteor where an appearance of shooting stars are set to streak across the sky. However a little closer to the ground we have our own starry show taking place in the deep dark depths of one of the world’s best clubs, that we call… Fabric. Every year Fabric celebrates its birthday with a stellar lineup and no better than the very Villalobos, Craig Richards, Joy Orbison, Apollonia, Sonja Moonear and many more are here to provide us the soundtrack to our 30 hour music marathon.
Since 1999, Fabric has been at the vanguard of dance music and club culture. It has pathed the way for underground music to be seen and heard. It’s had its highs and its had its lows but one thing is for sure… its spirit will never die. Fabric remains undefeated and its combat since closure has shown its reason of being much more than just a club to escape from the daily world in. It’s a place for those to be inspired, learn and to connect… It was my first true exposure to the underground scene as a teen growing up and I speak on behalf of many, when I express gratitude for this musical hub within easy reach for those wanting to dig a little deeper and go a bit more under. With security upped you wonder whether its attraction and sense of freedom still remains – the answer is yes. Fabric is like a wonderful plant, given you respect it; it’ll show you many of its unimaginable sides, it’ll help you to grow and understand more about yourself. An essence one can only grasp when inside those four brick walls… Fabric is a feeling.
From those inside, I receive videos of Moonear laying it down in the early hours with the classic Sonja choice of sultry vocals over the bare minimal and getting the party started with the likes of ‘Son of Sound – I Have You On My Side’… For us outside it’s 5pm, Sunday afternoon and without further ado we arrive at the scene at what appears to be a quiet affair. I descend the staircase and begin to feel the bassline move as it vibrates the floor. The session is full under way but with still some of the best yet to come. Straight into Room 1, a sea of blue and red lights swarm in rotation over a steamy room of boys and girls… the crowd is popping. We make our way to the back stage to catch the last view of Rhadoo’s icy but warm Romanian minimal intricacy. His loopy but lifting tracks, seem to swoon the crowd into a dream as we move into the notorious French trio, Apollonia.
The master of minimal hands it over to what looks like Shonky in a Father Christmas hat, I sweep the crowd and laugh as I remember it’s fancy dress. Now they all start appearing – Rastafarian Spongebob’s moving their wavy arms through the mass as well as dancing dinosaurs and other spirit animals like the glow-in-the-dark octopus heads…. It was clear the night was going to get weird and wonderful.
‘Apollonia’, the boys who are named after Prince’s ex Apollonia in ‘Purple Rain’ and here the trilogy are to make us groove. They open warm and softly with a melodic intro before dropping a roaring heavy breakdown, strictly tech and acid. The whistling begins a cacophony of hoots, cackles and wails start up as excitement grows from their entrance, someone chanting ‘aribaaaa’ at the booth over ‘Envelope – Be There’ with its slinky looping lyrics ‘the vibe, the rhythm’… Members of the Fabric floor symphony orchestra beautifully compositing the guys quick progress into their sound. Keeping things moving with ‘Simple Elements – Fumblin’ and the likes of ‘Vizar – The Time (Repeat Repeat Repeat) into the more bouncy playful sounds of Rob Mello’s, ‘No Ears Dubs Vol 2’.
Where dark funk meets minimal groove and down tempo bass, every track that went by the tone went a little more underground… Shonky teases us with his unreleased polyrhythmic and seriously jacking new sounds, playing the punchy ‘Ledge Rover’ and ‘Cookie Monster’ – sounding effortless but no doubt seriously crafted. The darker we went, the deeper we went; I hear the beginning of Shonky’s ‘Ursulo & Gorillette [SHNK000]’, heads down, arms up, hands begin to fan and clap. By this point, no one was leaving Room 1. Memories of Dan Ghenacia’s ‘Sunny Side Up’ soon to be released track playing out to the perfect Sunday afters vibe. With his typical heady based beats, low-compressed sound which sooth our souls into the next act.
Mr Joy Orbison seamlessly takes over as the last act before we move into monday morning. A foggy blue mist spreads over him as he steps into the light proceeding with ringing techno. He brings rolling kickdrums, a deep and thompy bass and at times warping and wavering. His intro starting with a repetitive cut of a vocalised feel-good ‘uh’ overlaying it with different chords of loopy keys chasing over one another. A vortex of sounds, the crowd continuously smirking in surprise as each guest brings their own new ingredients to add to the mix, complementing those before. For a first time listening of Joy Orb, it isn’t hard to understand all the rage… An eclectic mixer that brings together a melting pot of sounds that simply seduce the dance floor into a sensual journey of cosmic noise. As we move in and out of tracks the crowd swing their heads to one another, blessed to be in the presence of this sonic haven. Some had been there 12 hours, some 24 and others the full 30, anytime to enter was a good time.
Struck midnight, our magnetic man Ricardo Villalobos appears and like the voodoo deity Baron Samedi, “The man who cannot die” with his mystic and enchanting flute playing used for magic powers… Villalobos in similar shamanic fashion resurrects in the booth casting wizardry and opening the entrance for our trance state to begin. He starts soft and melodic with sounds from a distant land, playing ‘Carl Craig – At Les’ with its harmonic cuts that dance over the stomping kick drum. Ricardo, the creature of the night infuses his infectious energy amongst the dance floor with one thing in mind, to make us move. We catch glimpses of his wonderfully contagious laugh as he swishes his hair back in the beam of yellow light… giving us no choice but to laugh along!
The Chilean chief takes control in his true minimal style as we move to his sonic force, expanding our mind and elevating our soul. The hours tick by as we transcend deeper, into the hypnotic sound of Villalobos, ‘Mas Profundo Que Mis Pies’ plays out, to a room full of those in trance ecstasy and soaked in rapture. He wakes us up with the 2017 Houghton grenade, ‘The Contempt (Trip Through Tools Mix)’ keeping us in suspense as we groove to the build up of claps and drums. Moving into the more flanger sounds and acidy synths with the vocal command, ‘We control the contempt’ this wavering groove seduces us all into a swaying body of euphoria. A full 20 minutes go by and we begin to climax to the multiplying vocals that pulsate and peek. In sync with the sound the lasers above me dodge faster and faster, until the drop is released… and the floor goes insane. This labyrinth of red lights continue to lose me in their show. I hear the naughty 1980s ‘Velodrome – Capataz’ vocal, the crowd begin to bounce and with that the beginning of ‘Butch – Quiet Storm’ is sampled… call it fuel-power.
His fellow sorcerer and fabric-defining legend and resident, Craig Richards steps in for the last round taking us through from 3-5am. Smoke rises as the finale commences with a crowd still steam-rolling on, bound to the floor. He is the man who we have a lot to thank for and is an integral part of Fabric’s history blessing us with hidden gems and unpredictable, quirky sounds. An artist, musician, curator and club culture’s gift of grace; we monday worship him in our hearts as we dance through to his tripped-out abstract beats. With the end near yet still soldering on, we rave hard in awe of Richard’s complete concentration on the mix, rarely looking up to make eye contact with the crowd. He leaves us on a slow mover, ‘Stasis – Space 1993’ under the green light that smoothly disperses whilst the unbroken dubby tech filters out and we begin to cheer.
‘Fabric’, even the action of just saying the word leaves a smirk on your face. It’s infectious and naughty qualities make those that don’t know want to know. It’s the one place that brings the finest underground selectors together… Whilst welcoming any gender, race, age and ultimately music lovers into their home. Gathering those who are willing to dance from yesterday’s dusk to tomorrow’s dawn – not for the faint hearted. That can create a line-up like this one loaded with minimal, groove, rare house and tech possible in the space of one weekend all under one roof. Tonight a community was formed, connecting as one on the journey of sharing the gifts each act had to give. There is no place quite like it that harbours such quality artists alongside their true rooted supporters.
Would I do it all again? Yes.
© 2018 Georgia Fitzgerald
Follow her on socials: @fitzgeorgia
Front pic: LarryJ Photography