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Four Tet recently said that his “FabricLive 59” set wouldn't reflect his short-term vision as a DJ, but that it would be more of a tribute to the Fabric nights and, by extension, to the underground club scene in London. A scene he has been part of for over 15 years - its constant mutations leaving deep marks on his evolution as a producer and DJ. He was there when the first garage singles were released and he's still there; now one of the main actors on the set, releasing things like the closing track of this mix, “Locked”.
So it's no surprise that he seems to be giving something back in a mix that explains to the world what a party night in the UK capital is like, particularly in its ultimate temple. All that, from the perspective of his own experiences and emotions over the years, from both sides of the fence. To achieve the best possible offer, Hebden put his boots on and applied three recipes that are always essential for the construction of a good mix: rigorous earnestness when choosing the tracks, meticulousness in the execution (while it's been recorded on the computer, all material is taken from vinyl, up to the point of Hebden pressing acetates of his unreleased tracks in order to maintain the same sonic feel throughout the mix) and care (and large doses of talent) in the design of the sound.
After an intro - on which field recordings from the club itself are mixed with the mutating arpeggios of French experimental artist Michel Redolfi - we go back to the year 1998, with two classics by Crazy Bald Heads and Persian, respectively. That year, Four Tet made his debut on Output with “Thirtysixtwentyfive” and the sounds of the first garage explosion was the soundtrack of the weekend. By the time the strings of Floating Point's “ Sais” come in, Hebden has already managed to create an intoxicating mood, juxtaposing the light darkness of the first tracks with the sharpness of Youngstar's grime (the mythical “Pulse X”, made when he was still called Musical Mob). From then on we go back again, this time to the early eruptions of UK funky, with Apple's “Mr Bean”. All of the above records are now really hard to find, in fact, Hebden said he spent a lot of time talking to collectors and dealers and on Discogs in order to get his hands on some copies in mint condition. Genius' “Waiting” is also on that list, the track closing the first part of the mix.
The partition of the mix is consciously emphasised with the introduction of new field recordings, combined with the cosmic music of reputed sonic investigator David Borden. From here on, Hebden leaves the slanted rhythms aside and moves on to the 4x4, an element that has gained weight on his most recent productions. Enter the sombre and rattling techno of people like STL and C++, only to return to the melancholic euphoria of Burial's “Street Halo”. This playing with darkness and light is maintained over the course of the whole house part, with Ricardo Villalobos as a special guest. It's widely known that Hebden and the Chilean producer share a taste for clayey textures and organic sounds as the essential element in their constructions. With his recent “Pyramid” we enter the final phase of the mix, in which he recovers a UK garage classic and slowly moves towards Chicago with Armando Gallop and Steve Poindexter.
A new set of field recordings forms the “Outro”, before adding the finishing touch with his own “Locked”- a track that perfectly reflects the state of pleasant existential weightlessness you experience when coming out of a club and feeling the first rays of sunlight on your face, knowing you have just lived a glorious night. The times after any good party, when you know that what you have just experienced is a piece of happiness you can hold on to forever. And that's what this set is. An emotional document any fan of electronic music should go back to whenever they need to reaffirm the evocative potential and the promise of happiness hidden within the four walls of a club. If you have followed the British scene of the past three decades from up close, you will most likely weep. Majestic.