Thursday 18 January 2018

Rock: Brothers in sound

These Fabric tastemakers are cut from a different cloth

Outsiders: Pangaea of Hessle Audio
Outsiders: Pangaea of Hessle Audio

Aidan Hanratty

In a world where artists are turning to ever-more elaborate ways to sell their music -- from coloured vinyl to USB sticks and even cassette tapes -- it may seem strange that a London nightclub is continuing with its long-running CD mix series. But that's just what fabric is doing, and has been, since it started releasing compact discs in metal cases in 2001.

The club releases a mix CD every month, alternating between the FABRICLIVE and fabric series, each representing Friday and Saturday nights respectively.

The former sees DJs play "drum and bass, dubstep, and other mutations of bass heavy sounds with occasional forays into techno, electro and house", while the latter is focused on "house, tech house, electronica and techno". Confused? You'll be even more so when you listen to FABRICLIVE.73, which comes from Kevin McAuley, better known to the world as Pangaea.

McAuley set up Hessle Audio in 2007 with Ben Thomson (Ben UFO) and David Kennedy (Pearson Sound). The label's early output was inspired by the then-thriving dubstep scene. While that genre was born in London, however, Hessle's first release came from Berlin-based TRG. That outsider status has been key to the success of the trio, as they have managed to subvert and confound expectations to become key players in the post-dubstep landscape.

Thomson, for example, is one of a handful of DJs to achieve success without a sideline in production, trading solely on his excellent selections and impeccable technical skills. McAuley, however, finds that the two modes influence each other: "I make music with DJing in mind, and DJ from the perspective of standing in front of a stack of speakers. I'm always trying to find that spot between what physically and mentally stimulates me."

That said, he only includes one of his own tracks on his new CD, indicating a humility and a drive to push the music of others. This is something that is particularly true of Thomson's weekly Hessle Audio show on Rinse FM, where he consistently bloods new artists, including, recently, fresh Irish talents Lumigraph and Boya.

Speaking to website Resident Advisor in late 2012, McAuley reflected that "techno in particular feels to me like the most open, creative, exciting yet functional space to work in", so it's no surprise that his entry to the FABRICLIVE series should be more focused than those of his Hessle brothers in sound.

In 2011, Pearson Sound built on a platform of house and techno, moving towards dramatic bass (including Pangaea's Yazoo-sampling 'Inna Daze') and dubstep, taking in genre stalwarts such as Mala and Burial.

Move forward two years and Ben UFO started his entry at a higher tempo, yet remained similarly eclectic.

The mix shifted between the rugged house of Delroy Edwards and the industrial techno of Blawan, not to mention tongue-in-cheek choices from Herbert and Tim 'Love' Lee, before rounding things out with the ethereal strains of Kuedo's remix of Grown Folk.

Pangaea, however, sticks to pummelling and invigorating techno throughout. Shifted's cavernous 'Untitled B2' gives way to the glistening 'His Temple' from Mystica Tribe; Detroit's MGUN contributes the spacey 'Blunt Run', while Pearson Sound makes an appearance with the glorious 'Starburst'.

The 22-year-old Exposure remix of Speedy J's 'Something For Your Mind', meanwhile, is rendered new against more recent tracks from Forward Strategy Group and Bleaching Agent.

"I've never been happier with where I am and where I'm going as an artist. A lot has changed musically in the past few years, and having felt adrift at times it now feels like all my musical experiences have led naturally to this place."

The trio play The Twisted Pepper in Dublin for the Not Saying Boo collective at the end of this month, and it will be interesting to hear what these tastemakers have to offer.

Promoter and DJ Frankie Grimes is confident they'll put on a good show. "From the early days, [Hessle has] been a label that's tried to connect the dots between all the facets of UK sound system culture, never compromising, never pandering, and in doing so have nearly created its own genre; you can only describe it as 'the Hessle sound'."

If you want a hint of where house, bass and techno will intersect this year, it's not a night to be missed.

  • FABRICLIVE.73 mixed by Pangaea is out on January 20; Not Saying Boo present Hessle Audio feat Ben UFO, Pearson Sound and Pangaea at The Pearson Sound and Pangaea at The Twisted Pepper on January 31.

Irish Independent

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