There's something reassuringly upfront about Ben Sims. Refusing to raise his head above the parapet of underground techno for two decades or so, the Theory Recordings boss approaches the booth with principles based upon hip-hop turntablism and showmanship, only they've been read through a distinctly muscular club lens. Of course, the sledgehammer-solid, nigh-on banging, and occasionally manic end of techno has been receiving plenty of attention in the last year or so, with Blawan's rise to stardom (which has been fueled in part by his collaborative Karenn and Trade projects) and the music being turned out by key figures like Objekt. As such, Sims' long-awaited entry into the Fabric mix series couldn't have come at a better time in terms of public interest.
Notably physical whenever DJing, Sims makes the most of that talent on Fabric 73, crafting a quick-fire, adrenaline-packed dancefloor assault. A high-energy meld of punchy kicks, driving rhythms, and rapid mixes pushing forward into stormy and hectic, rave-inspired sonic territories, the mix more than evidences what legions of die-hard fans have known for years.
Of course, this music is not for everyone, especially not the faint-hearted. Opening on Joton's "GS01," old-school introductory samples harken back to the golden age of mixtapes, wherein those in control were there to show off tricks and technique as much as record selection. This ethic continues throughout the huge, 43-strong tracklist, which arguably only climaxes with Special Request's closing "Broken Dreams," a dub- and jungle-tinged breaks outing crammed full of snares and filter effects that finally ends with a dated, newsreel-style sample.
With so much on the disc, it's simpler to focus on how the whole thing is formed, rather than the mix's individual elements. This is a club set through and through, so dissecting each bit outside of Sims' intended context ruins the point. That being said, Fokus Group's industrial-clad stomper "Nut Nut," L-VIS 1990's percussive monster, "SDS5000," and Doc Daneeka's spring-loaded "Recursion" all warrant attention, as do plenty of others. But, realistically, referencing how the latter descends perfectly into the pulsating low end of Sims' own "Raise Your Hands" (as remixed by Mr. G), or the way Julien H Mulder's "Symmetric Timeline" and its repetitive, eerily euphoric chimes wind up echoing atop "90's," a jacking, acid-infused number by Rod, is much more appropriate. Full of heavy, upbeat four-fours aimed at the jugular, the main disappointment of Fabric 73 is that most listeners won't get to hear it at the volume these sounds were made for.