Techno has always been a genre that is much more fun to write and read about than actually actively listening to. While either describing or reading about the progressions of the pounding rhythms or melodic interjections, every musical turn always seems both spellbinding and awe inspiring revelation. But hearing it in real time is usually something of a disappointment, because in its layers and layers of beats, effects and percolation, the ear grabbing aspects of its sound is usually subtle enough to bore casual listeners and uninteresting enough to wow anyone but the converted. They way I write this review will no doubt make the mix sound like you must hear it and no doubt after listening quite a few ears will be left feeling like something is missing and I exaggerated my position on the record. And I must admit, after properly digging into Fabric 38, I realized this mix does nothing that would make me stop and press rewind. But once allowing it to properly digest, its an endlessly enjoyable record with the most seamless mixing and unified, winding exploration of mood the M.A.N.D.Y. name has ever endorsed.
At first listen, Fabric 38 is not nearly as immediate a mix as M.A.N.D.Y’s back catalog, Body Language Volume 1, Get Physical Volume 2 and At the Controls. Its hooks are deeper and less accessible, it lacks an emotional centerpiece and perhaps most startlingly, there is no breakaway crowd pleaser a la “Body Language”. But Fabric 38 has its merit in being more than just surefire dancefloor pleasers. Get Physical labelmate and Apparat collaborator Raz Ohara’s “Kisses” is the highlight of the mix as not surprisingly, the most accessible moment on the record. But its listener friendliness isn’t the high point – the segue into Basic Soul Unit’s “Tunnels” is. M.A.N.D.Y. takes the raw emotion of Ohara’s vocal and turn it sideways – into a progression of swirling of keys that ache longer and harder than “Kisses” ever aspires to. I keep finding myself coming back to DJ Yellow & Astrid Suryanto’s “To the Top” which features manipulated vocals layered over a warm and inviting fuzzy synth and a landscape of blips and bleeps that confound as much as they reward.
With any techno record, uncovering the nuances of the tracks is the real treat and M.A.N.D.Y do not fail in presenting seamless explorations into their own hook heavy brand of minimal house. With Fabric 38, they don’t look to wow, they simply do what they always do – bring house to the aesthetics of minimal techno. The tracks compiled tell a story of 2 DJ’s whose journey to techno superstardom has been both tedious and remarkably rewarding. Musically, Fabric 38’s tracks neither flaunt their triumphs nor overstay their welcome. They engage on an even more profound personal level and prove M.A.N.D.Y. to be more than party ignitors and scene tastemakers but finally artists in their own right.