It’s hard to deny that London-born producer/DJ Maya Jane Coles is a whirligig of house savantism and techno mastery – especially after last year’s lauded debut LP, Comfort. She’s proved herself as a chieftain of her chosen genres, and is now one of the world’s hottest, most sought after dance talents, with Rolling Stone recently naming her the 15th most influential DJ in the entire gorramn world. Not quite GOAT-like, but give her time: she’s only in her mid-twenties. There’s still plenty more on the cards. Starting with a compilation mix for legendary nightclub, Fabric.
For fabric 75, the latest mix in the series (also the 75th instalment), Coles has cut straight to the chase. It’s brittle, barebones techno, for the most part, relying on swathes of stripped-back percussive beats and simple melodic motifs. Not flexing too close to the confines of techno’s beat-y cage, it’s a minimalist affair, reminiscent of her remixes of The XX or Ella Fitzgerald. The aim isn’t to create a set of whoppin’ singles or rousing singalong tunes, but rather to sculpt a subtler, immersive experience which’ll sink you into a rhythmic trance like Tyres at a bus stop. Coles’ mix acts as a flawed sensory deprivation chamber, blocking all external stimuli bar noise; you’ll forget touch, your eyes will glaze.
Cole’s inclusion in the series was inevitable, really. “Fabric was one of the first clubs that I partied at, so it’s quite mad to have gone from being a punter to a headliner, playing the midnight set at NYE and now my own fabric mix,” she said about the compilation. “It feels like the club has been symbolic in the evolution on my career, with a lot of good memories and milestones.” As such, it’s not just a stream of sound to stick on at a party (though it’s a great idea to do so), this mix is obviously a labour of love. It flows superbly, with no hint of seams or hoisting you from the depths of techno; lines are blurred between tracks – which have been meticulously ordered for not only a sonic evolution, but also a personal one. As Fabric have pointed out, this is a rare peek inside her approach to dance.
It’s more often than not instrumental, but there are vocals occasionally scattered throughout, chewed up and spat out in sample form. They’re used far more towards the climactic end of the experience, which ups pace, volume and complexity for dramatic effect. As a mix, Coles has utilised her favourite tracks rather than crafting the whole thing herself, but there are a few beefier Cole segments – a new track, “Premonition”, for example – and the whole thing has her obsidian sheen, shimmering mechanically and futuristic in scarce flickers of fluorescent light.
The mix itself is tough to split and dissect, primarily due to the format’s limitations. It is a solid product, and a hefty 73-minute one at that, which doesn’t really react well to being severed and torn apart for bitesize sessions. It’s something you will need to dedicate time to, explore in regular intervals, or, for a better contextual approach, to soundtrack hedonism. It fleshes out Coles’ musical backstory, providing deeper understanding of her signature style, which is valuable for avid followers, but the draw is limited outside of that. The chancers that do stumble across it will have no trouble being enamoured either, but like B-side/rarities collections, acoustic renditions and live albums, mixes aren’t essential cogs in an artist’s canon. fabric 75 probably won’t appeal to many outside Cole’s baying fanbase or the techno diaspora, but this is aural catnip for those two groups.