Thursday, 8 September 2016

R.I.P. Fabric: A Commemorative Playlist

Image credit: Ewan Munro Flickr 

Just this morning, London night-life and youth culture was delivered a heavy blow in the closure of Fabric, perhaps the country's most esteemed venue for electronic music and enjoyment. After a six-hour hearing and vehement, heartfelt support for the club from a multi-tude of venue attendees and DJs alike, Islington Council imposed the verdict, citing two drug-related deaths which took place in June of this year as the chief reason. It described the behaviour of the club's drug-search policy as "inadequate and in breach of the license".

The news has largely been greeted by widespread anger and sadness. To many, Fabric's closure is a signifier of a wider agenda of the Establishment, the latest step in an ongoing campaign against the capital's culture which has seen the decline and closure of many smaller clubs and venues across the city over the last decade or so. Hessle Audio head-honcho Ben UFO- who's addition to the Fabric Live mix CD series is one of the most lauded- tweeted that this was "the end of a long and cynical campaign against the club by the police and Islington Council which started a long time before these recent deaths". Similarly, producer and DJ Bok Bok wrote: "This isn't really about drugs or door searches. Another step towards a city full of extortionate, empty properties and all privatised space".

The inherent argument about drugs and user safety is bound to be more contentious, but the idea that the closure of a night-club somehow makes younger people safer, especially in 2016, seems rather mute. In a world where drugs in the hand of street criminals accounts for a severe portion of drug-related injury and addiction, limiting one's options in terms of community and care-centric safe-spaces is counter-intuitive. The sense of unity that existed at Fabric has been cited by regular club-goers as being rather unlike anywhere else; in a passionate article by April Clare Walsh for FACT magazine, she makes the assertion that "from it's welcoming atmosphere to its zero-tolerance policy on sexual harassment, Fabric was a place for unity".

Thankfully, it seems as though attempts to curtail and re-define London's culture has been dismissed on a powerful level. In a statement he gave this morning, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said "this decline must stop if London is to retain its status as a 24-hour-city with a world class night-life". There's support flooding through from people of many different persuasions and backgrounds, and it seems that people back action, whether it be through lobbying the club's constituency's local MP Emily Thornberry or donating to the Nightlife Matters campaign.

From a purely musical perspective, Fabric's importance and influence cannot be understated. Since first opening on the 21st October 1999 it has been host to some of electronic music's most legendary sets and performances. From its regular Saturday night residents Craig Richards and Terry Francis, to regular appearances from the likes of iconic, forward thinking masterminds like Ricardo Villalobos, Robert Hood and Marcel Dettmann, it has been a place to celebrate the most pounding, challenging and immersive electronic music has to offer. It has achieved wonders for the art of the mix as well via it's long- spanning FabricLive CD series, which for me was a pivotal, romantic board from which to dive into a sub-genre which has now become one that I hold very close to my heart. Ben UFO's Fabric: Live 67, for example, was a gaping gateway into not just the music for me, but the way in which boundaries can be pushed and expectations dissolved in the way records can be played together and bounced off of each other.

With that in mind, I've decided to create a playlist of tunes that I discovered through the legendary Fabric mix series. The playlist starts with The Undertones' 'Teenage Kicks', which was played as a closer by the late John Peel in one of the earliest editions to the series, and has since gone down as a defining moment in London clubbing history. It ends on The Walker Brothers' 'Nite Flights', which Simian Mobile Disco rounded their set off with. The epic sense of sky-gazing melody and doom-laden lyrics seem futuristically bleak. All of theses tunes, from the slinky, irresistible garage of Persian's 'Feel Da Vibe' to Mumdance & Novelist's banging off-kilter grime on '1 Sec', are responsible for some of the most profound moments of listening realisation I've had thus far.

The closure of Fabric may represent a thickening grey cloud over the city and youth's cultural heritage, but the music will always be profound to those who whom it sound-tracked formative experiences for, and people like me, who may not have delved so deeply into the music without it.

You can listen to the playlist via the Spotify web player HERE.

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