Various – ‘Fabric 60: Dave Clarke’ (Fabric Records)

‘Dark n lovely’, the title of the 4th tune in Dave Clarke’s Fabric by Marc Romboy vs. Paris the Black Fu (and remixed by Kenny Larkin), could be a suitable tag line for the 60th in the Fabric mix series. As long as you find teeth grindingly tough dance music ‘lovely’. Mr Clarke, aka the Baron of Techno, is a man notorious for his passion for all electronic things hard as nails as much as his decision to DJ in leather trousers. He’s been battering clubbers with a relentless blend of technological gothic night music for years – and is a regular player in Fabric’s second room. It makes his invitation to take over the controls for this instalment series an obvious choice.

The Baron’s pedigree in the world of techno and electro is second to none – he’s a true heavyweight with many a club and lengthy after hours session sound tracked by his World Service mixes or untouchable Red Series. When he’s in full fighting mode, there aren’t many other players who can compete with his taut mixing, scratching abilities and relentlessly banging choice of tune. Slice him open and he’ll bleed music which is as tough as a pair of old jack boots. The set he’s put together for Fabric shows that he may well have been in the dance music game for over 20 years, but his take on the mix is one as urgent, visceral and funky as any of his supposed successors have managed. To paraphrase the man himself, he may be established but he’s far from being the establishment.

‘Fabric 60’s early moments will be surprising for those not familiar with Clarke’s passion for the more industrial oeuvre – Pauli’s Monster Bass Guitar remix of Crotaphytus’ ‘Cnemidophorus Sexlineatus’ is as dark as it is difficult to spell. This is electronic body music at it’s most sleazy, sounding exactly how it looks on the written page – it quakes with bass, sounds as if D.A.F themselves are riding it out of the gutter and wouldn’t be out of place in a Weatherall set. The aforementioned ‘Dark n lovely’ oddly shines a little more light into the session and takes the pace to a funkier, more electronic point but Clarke keeps his foot to the floor and the pressure bubbling. ‘Cute Heels’ is devastatingly pounding, grinding techno before the Baron chooses to reveal the more electro stylings lying beneath his lustrious musical cape. ‘Aufstand’ by Gessaffelstein crushes Fabric 60’s centre before the bloody dance floor slaughter of Dez Williams and Clatterbox take us to the brink. The Attic’s ‘Baz Reznik’ acts as a harsh and eerie final nail in the coffin, an electronic guillotine to end the mix and bring a permanent night in. It’s Clarke all over and, as with the whole set, adds up to as bold (and perhaps as obvious) a statement as any – that he’s not about to start making compromises at this stage in his career.

If you class mixes as journeys then this is one that takes you out for a dance with the devil – if you want in, then prepare to mount the hearse and polish your black strobes. If you’re not used to the pace, or easily scared, then you may want to leave it alone and start sleeping with the lights on…

Jim Ottewill

‘Fabric 60: Dave Clarke’ is out now on Fabric Records.

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