Posted by: pascoesabido | August 27, 2009

Villalobos and Raresh still can’t make Fabric fun!

Ricardo Villalobos and Raresh (B2B) @ Fabric, London, 23/05/2009

Written for Data Transmission on 25/05/09 but not published

Fabric has become a once in a while experience. No longer can it be frequented with regularity because, quite honestly, you’d do your nut in and stab someone with a blunt instrument. Unfortunate but not unexpected for London’s most successful super-club; the people it attracts are far removed from the crowd you might find at the T Bar or Loco Dice’s recent Under 300 tour. But that’s life, like it or lump it: when Villalobos and Raresh, two names that ooze with techno royalty, are enlisted to assault room one, it’s time to close your eyes and think of England.

However, despite the dynamite billing, there’s no queue to speak of at midnight, security guards wandering around sheepishly, bereft of a crowd to jostle. It’s surprising, given that behind the two techno kings lies a 2-hour live set from Slam, another live offering from Mikael Stavöstrand, Arnaud le Texier (the Frenchman responsible for Safari Electronique) and also residents Terry Francis and Craig Richards. The quiet start doesn’t last long.

Room two, under the rhythms of le Texier, drifts from industrial almost tribal gritty techno through to jazzy breaks and infectious high-hats. From a sometimes-boring base, the gradual construction of interesting loops and samples can’t fail to illicit a wiggle of the hips and shuffle of the feet (enjoy the space while you can!). The gradual building is a theme carried on by Swede Mikael Stavöstrand, bringing oil tanker fog horns out of his laptop and into our ears. Whilst his layered tracks slowly gather momentum (slowly being the operative word), there is another problem he can’t seem to solve: up on the stage of room two with nothing but a laptop, all eyes are focused on the man making music (by this point a lot of them); whilst some people such as Stephen Bodzin interact with the crowd – going absolutely mental but also sharing his creative process through a camera-fed projection – our man Mikael has all the charisma of a carrot with a comb-over. He stands by the laptop, limp and lifeless, occasionally adjusting his side-parting to further accentuate the receding hair line. It’s a shame, as I’m sure his minimal offerings are often delectable, but unlike a DJ booth, the stage requires a performance.

The lull in room two allows the full range of Craig Richard’s talent to be appreciated. Week-in week-out he warms up for the biggest and brightest names in house and techno, and not once does he fall short. He is like a piece of the Fabric furniture, having only recently dared to venture beyond the brick vaults, but always at his best within them. Blending muffled metallic clangs with electrofied jazz quartets, he brings the biggest whoops of the night. He is so good in fact, that Ricardo Villalobos and Raresh (aka ArVi:Ar? Do I honestly see it catching on? No) let him keep playing for another 15-20 minutes while they monkey around behind the decks. The end of his set moves from the bumping sounds that got people moving into warped and eerie ambience, setting the scene for the once-minimal giants to launch their back to back.

[William Kouam Djoko – Look Inside Sun (Thirtyonetwenty)]

Raresh begins, bringing a deeper, housier techno, complete with keys, jazz, vocals and bongos. William Kouam Djoko’s Look Inside the Sun grinds through the immense Fabric soundsystem and up through the bodysonic dance floor, bringing a flute and funky chords to a chunky underlay. Villalobos can’t help but plump for his much-loved industrial sound, ratcheting in a high-hat to dominate the soundscape before bringing back the funkier Raresh sample – only to then drop into filth. The rugged Chilean exudes a rawness in his mixing, surprising the audience with the unsubtle chopping of his hard-hitting techno, leaving Raresh to bring the smoother side of life. A selection of special ’90s Detroit house evokes the days of UK G (see video below), but one pick particularly stands out: a subtly crafted and suitably groovy take on Eddie Amador’s House Music, remixed by fellow Romanians, Hermannstadt Collective. The acapella “not everyone understands house music” floats in and out before giving way to a pulsating break that ploughs through the crowd. The original sexy latino keyboard melody is then relayered on top, adeptly tweaked and continuously evolving.

While the music continues to crack the floorboards and rip up the upholstery, I still flake before seven. Perhaps I’m not as hard as I thought I was, but also pissed off with the crowd. Reading the RA forums afterwards, it’s as if we were in different clubs. It talks of space and being able to move: I attempt to make my space, have a dance, yet all around me are sleazy, nasty guys all chasing skirt and all getting nowhere. It’s like flies to shit – being any where near a pretty girl is a curse; actually, being pretty is not a prerequisite: pretty nor not, swarm they will. English, Italian, Spanish, all there with the same aim: pussy. Certainly the best music I’ve ever heard played in a pussy parlour, and such a shame because the Ricardo-Raresh combo is spectacular.

Hours of out of tune banshee-wailing, out of time clapping, and out of place whistling begin to grate. Standing by the stage, a mass of preened posing poncey guys apparate before me, not looking at the DJs, not dancing, but looking up at the stage at the scant girls who remain. Next minute, each and every one of them is asking for a bunk-up. Looking up, all the girls are now gone, replaced by under-sexed, hormone-charged peacocks (without the ‘pea’), who then realise this absence and one after the other get down again. This trend runs throughout the night, all over the room one dance floor. My heart goes out to anyone there with a girlfriend, protecting her from the ravenous vultures. Each guy that walks past you has his radar on, scouting left right centre, close far, x-ray vision so as not to miss the small ones. It’s like a cattle market except we’re not allowed to send these heifers across the road to Smithfield’s. Too much; home time.

Whilst a pity, I’m sure it’s for the best seeing as Sunday is the Data Transmission BBQ. The friend who failed to convince me to stay keeps on, enjoying more tunes and even a dance with Ricardo and Raresh as they mingle among their adorers. Next time, perhaps.

A lesson learnt for another few months/years: stay away from Fabric on Friday and Saturday. No matter who is playing, the crowd does not change. Full credit to them for getting the best names in dance music, but they’ll never escape their loyal followers. However, it’s definitely whet the appetite for more, but next time is planned to be on a beach in Barcelona, watching Villalobos play the sunrise in, back to back with Cassy. No contest.

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