Last year, Martyn Deijkers released Great Lengths, a solid album which mingled techno and dubstep approaches to electronic music, stark at times, but mostly lush. As is the case with more than a few DJ long-players, it felt constrained in places — tracks quarantined to a beginning and an end begged to overlap. This mix, for the Fabric nightclub’s nearly decade-long series, might be a better portrait of the artist, even if it’s only 5/26ths Martyn. Recorded in a single pass, it’s certainly a closer representation of what he serves up for a crowd.
Martyn’s forte is taking reliable four-to-the-floor beats and meshing them with grottier rhythms, with unimpeded flow. There aren’t many vocals here, and the songs Martyn does include provide the biggest anomalies to his main interest of tangling rhythms. But they’re a good signpost of the textures that capture his imagination. The only real sore thumb is some radio-Clash rock from The Detachments, even though it blends in a way that would have been impossible with the electrofunk opener, Hudson Mowhawke’s “Joy Fantastic.” Hudson’s song has got a Minneapolis crack to the beat (not to mention a goofball call-and-response vocal from Olivier Daysoul) that comes from a dâm-funky place a little too specific to blend smoothly with Marytn’s Euro outlook. But it’s a fine excuse for a cowbell, annoucing an upbeat set and making way for more intricate crossfades to come. The final vocal comes nearly an hour later, from dub poet Spaceape. His graveyard delivery is as far as you can get from faux-Morris Day and still be funky. Though it’s a Martyn track originally, he chooses Ben Klock’s technoish remix, the Jamaican feel all but scrubbed out but for the croak of Spaceape’s delivery.
Fellow Hyperdub regular Zomby has been also looking for commonalities between broken beats and straight time, and occupies three slots on Fabric 50. His “Little Miss Naughty” and “Light Cycle” are the anchors for the hottest part of the record, which is also the longest instro stretch, and also where tracks intersect the quickest. It’s bound together by a kickdrum that keeps moving foward in the mix, like an approaching parade. “Rass Out” by Da Altered Natives is a real find—a rubbery workout with low notes that make that steady march wiggle off its path. Martyn also works in a number from Joy Orbison. His well-hyped (and totally deserving) “Hyph Mngo” was a series of crescendos that needed the long running time to build their magic. “Brkln Clln” is a little lost, without enough room for the escalations to prompt the rising-sun emotion of his breakout number.
The strongest moment is also a track cut short, with no momentum lost. “These Words” is a gorgeous near-falsetto disco vocal which slips through a quicksand of subbass. It’s a pop song with an effortless strangeness to it, apiece with Hercules and Love Affairs “Blind” and Glass Candy’s “Beatific.” It’s smack in the middle of Fabric 50, and it debuted smack in the middle of Great Lengths. Here we get Roska’s remix, on top of a jerking dancehall beat. It’s showered with techno ripples, far less elegant than the clicks and shuffles of Martyn’s original. This is indestructable stuff, somber and exciting at the same time. A head-turner in any crowd, it’s surrounded by good company.