Ewan Pearson has had his hands in many places lately. Whether it’s creating
emotive techno with Al Usher as Partial Arts (see “Trauermusik” on Kompakt
Records) or helping to produce recent albums by the Rapture and Tracey
Thorn, he gets around. He even managed to sneak in a little deejay session for the celebrated Fabric mix series.
For this mix, Pearson attempts to inject some personality into a club scene that’s being devoured by a ferociously bland minimal monster. Whether he has succeeded may depend on your definition of minimal. Cheeky vocal hooks that sound like they were pulled from some forgotten ’80s new-wave classic are scattered throughout the mix, creating a moody vibe that sounds so over-the-top ultra-hip that it comes full circle and becomes fun again. When Prince-esque vocals by Snax come in for Konrad Black’s remix of “Honeymoon’s Over,” the idea of sing-along techno suddenly doesn’t seem so impossible.
Liquid Liquid’s “Bellhead,” a percussive DFA anthem, comes crashing in early on, conjuring images of a hipster-clad Christopher Walken calling for more cowbell. It’s the only respite from computerized techno throughout the mix, and yet somehow it eases itself in perfectly thanks to Pearson’s spot-on programming.
The mix takes a while to build, threatening to fall into the minimal trap toward the middle. Old-school techno pianos lift the mix out of its techno underground courtesy of 100hz’s “Trustlove,” and Samuel L Sessions later bursts through the roof with the alarming peak time techno of “Can You Relate.” The mix, full of peaks and valleys, closes out with a beautiful Carl Craig remix of Beanfield’s “Tides.”
Perhaps it was out of humility, but the lack of any originals or remixes by Pearson himself is sorely missed on this mix, as all of his recent productions do a wonderful job of adding a lush atmosphere to the dance formula. Ultimately his Fabric mix veers more toward a dark club sound that could have used some levity from that gorgeous production work of his, but it is a slam dunk of a club mix nonetheless.