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  • Filed under: Review
  • 10/16/2012

Pick

Ben Klock Fabric 66

Capturing the spirit of an eight-hour DJ set seems like a daunting task, but Ben Klock has so far been fairly good at it. One of the most popular residents at Berghain, he's a master of the esoteric art of the marathon set, a player whose abilities contribute to a larger party wormhole, sucking clubbers up only to spit them out 15 hours later. This kind of playing requires time, something lacking in a one-hour mix CD. Yet Klock's done it before: his Berghain 04 was like one of his DJ sets edited for radio, offering a snapshot of his own distinct aesthetic. And while that mix felt like an approximation of Klock at Berghain, his Fabric 66 feels like the guise he takes outside of Berlin. Perhaps because of this, it's also a more complete picture of his sound as an individual.

It's often said that Klock is more comfortable incorporating house sounds than some of his Berghain peers. While still staying true to the serious ethos of techno, he also includes bits of melody and occasional jacking rhythms that form pockets of contrast with the abrasive edge of his techno selections. Fabric 66, even more so than Berghain 04, works with this principle, grounding spacious and almost cosmic techno with references to house music's past.

It opens with a robotic vignette that leads from the orbiting wobble of Truncate's "Ratio 1," moves through the melodic space opera of DJ Bone's "Gemini," and then heads toward the dystopian factory groove of Trevino's "Forged." Just as it leans into this more menacing direction, he takes a subtle turn out. "Welcome to the Warehouse" intones a sampled and fucked-with Armando Gallop, as Technasia's "Final Quadrant (The Cosmic Beats)" introduces militant, Chicago-style snare fills and a direct tie to the music's American roots. Just as the Earthly familiarity sets in, he dips back into the security-camera lurk of DVS1's "Spying," a track that displays the Minnesotan's characteristic minimalism with just a single piano motif spiraling over a hissing assembly of open hi-hats. Even this early on, Klock has established a sine-wave-like pattern of rolling intensities, jumping through corridors of different genres while exploring the synapses that connect these references and ultimately form a single entity.

Though appreciable for its overall flow, there are some moments on Fabric 66 that stand out as unique. These idiosyncratic choices help to lend the mix some timelessness, rooting it outside of the present moment. Leading up to the record's release, it seemed as though the inclusion of Burial's "Raver" might be one such surprise. However, on the record in a new and specially edited form, it's actually one of the mix's least-surprising moments. Coming out of the crunchy looping and exploding cymbals of D-Knox's "Mind Calming," the Burial track operates more like a bonus beat; it's edited to a nub of its former self, with haunting vocals calling out over a broken rhythm that, in this context, feels more like dub techno than an offshoot of dubstep. If this were played on a dancefloor, it would be the kind of repetitive record that seems to loosen gravity and extend time, affording a timeless moment of kinetic energy to be sharpened and launched by the next song, as happens on this mix during the sci-fi wizardry of Marcell Dettmann's "Allies."

As it happens, the true peak of Fabric 66 comes unexpectedly out of left field, the precise moment of crescendo hitting roughly around the same time as the old-school, '90s-style sampled break that hits in Klock's own remix of Josh Wink's "Are You There?" Joined by a contorting acid line, lurching stabs, and a time-stretched voice repeating the title, it's a striking cut that seems to convey the breadth of his influences in four minutes. This same feeling is revisited later through the comparatively mellow house of Floorplan's "Never Grow Old," a track that very literally gets across the infinite feeling of a good moment spent on a dancefloor while also pushing a very obvious vinyl fetishism, retaining the comforting pop and click of a needle grinding its way through the well-worn grooves.

Without paying attention to the tracklisting, it almost feels as though Klock is ramping up when he eases in James Ruskin's Detroit-indebted "Detached." Rising orchestral pads bring to mind the first wave, throwing the feeling into another stasis—it could go anywhere from here, and in a club context, it probably would lead into another two hours. Instead, it fades into itself, its pads playing out long after the rhythm ends. Finally, it ends with Alva Noto's "Monophaser 2," a meditative ambient piece that allows for two minutes of reflection before finally disappearing into silence.

If there's any point of criticism, it's that Fabric 66 is too short. Obviously, lengthening the mix is an impossible demand considering the format, but Klock's the kind of DJ whose skill truly unfolds over an extended duration. His ability to program and speak with records for hours at a time is unfortunately lost in just a one-hour mix. But that could be said for any long-form DJ operating under similar constraints, and it hardly detracts from what can safely said to be one of the better Fabric mixes in recent memory.

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