Fabric’s relentless mix series has continued to act as an expansive survey of clubland’s prime selectors and producers. The vast Fabriclive collection actively mirroring the club’s cutting edge Friday night music policy; with each installment acting as a proverbial badge of honor to whomever is chosen. This time, it’s the turn of Hessle Audio co-founder Ben ’UFO’ Thompson to affirm his place in Fabric’s hall of fame; and it’s a wonder it didn’t happen before now, considering Hessle’s long-standing affiliation with the venue (their quarterly residency is nearly four years strong) but with his Rinse mix dropping last year, it’s assumed some breathing space was required before the big reveal.
Aside from manning the helm on the good ship Hessle, Thompson has earned himself the status of one of the UK’s finest mixers. Along with elitist spinners Oneman and Jackmaster, he’s part of a dying breed of DJ, one that has achieved success purely on the merit of being a great selector. His ability to create a cohesive narrative by mining forgotten gems (Mr Fingers “I’m Strong”) and blending them seamlessly with new material (Pearson Sound “Clutch”) is evident here, but not the primary theme; as Thompson lures the listener into a false sense of security with his chosen opener – the eerie build of Mix Mup’s “Before” gradually lingers until it’s swallowed whole by Delroy Edwards’ “Feelings”.
Thompson continues to play around with these stylistic contrasts throughout. The ebb and flow action is pretty characteristic of the mix as a whole, and indeed of Thompson’s DJ style. These days he appears to favor the darker, slightly abstract side of house and techno which becomes evident in the later half of the mix: from Kyle Hall & Kero’s “Zug Island” through to Blawan’s “And Both His Sons” via the syncopated, off-kilter beats of A Made Up Sound’s “Malfunction”, Thompson seamlessly stiches each track together, like a sonic patchwork quilt.
That’s not to say it’s all industrial, moody doom and gloom. K Hand’s “Untitled B1” ensures the mix doesn’t take itself to seriously and incorporates that splash of colour needed to keep things light. And as the mix winds down with the light flicker of Floating Points’ “Danger” melting into a Kuedo remix of Grown Folk & Main Attrakionz “I.C.E” – both acting as a welcome palette cleanser from the heavy meal of a mix that proceeded – I’d say that Ben UFO has succeeded in providing a clear representation of where we’re at right now in terms of ‘forward thinking sounds’. We had to wait a while, but damn was it worth it.