Since relaunching under the ‘fabric presents’ banner, the UK clubbing institution fabric has reached a new high. All three mixes have been celebrations of the past, present and future of British dance music. From SHERELLE’s footwork-latticed jungle to Leon Vynehall’s globe-trotting itinerary to TSHA’s homage to that moment when dubstep and house started to play footsie in UK clubs.
In some ways, then, shifting to the continent and handing the helms over to Italians Mind Against, aka Alessandro and Federico Fognini, might come as a bit of a surprise. But tapping the duo is a canny move. The club has always had a big tent, democratic approach to dance music, its three rooms fermenting dance music of all varieties. And for a huge corner of clubland, Mind Against make up a central node of contemporary house and techno.
Since joining forces in 2011, Alessandro and Federico Fognini have cultivated an instantly recognisable sound. Their music as DJs, producers, and label heads is big and bold – filled with dramatic, drumless breaks, darting arpeggios, and, of course, closed snare patterns. But it also stays on the right side of cheesy, exhibiting a sense of restraint as it flirts on the edge of melodrama.
Don’t get me wrong, there are a few places on ‘fabric presents Mind Against’ that might be a bit much for those not already punch-drunk on the Mind Against Kool Aid (the final minute of Frankey & Sandrino’s ‘Hollow’ or that extended break on Sam Shure’s ‘Particles’ spring to mind). But taken as a whole, the duo balance the emotional with the downright funky.
Take one of the mix’s centrepieces, Nandu’s ‘Viciously Searching for Another Dimension’. In miniature, Nandu captures something essential about the Mind Against cosmology: the arpeggios and piano lines are draped with star-searching wanderlust, but the Copenhagen producer keeps things a bit sinister in the low-end, splitting the difference between Perlon and Innervisions. This weird and wonderful Venn Diagram accounts for the best of the 11 exclusives collected here, like Echonomist’s hazy grooves on ‘Mango’ and Toto Chiavetta’s blog house throwback synth work on ‘Prodotto Astratto (Dub)’.
But just as important as individual tracks is the sequencing. Four tracks in, Joey Anderson’s gravity-free remix of Fluxion’s ‘You Don’t Know Me’ offsets the emotional grandiosity of Shiffer’s ‘Fatalist’. Mind Against only keep the track in for a minute before mixing into ENØS’s cinematic ‘With You’. Without the Anderson remix between the two, it might be too many feels for any one dancefloor to take.
It’s a trick the duo reprise throughout — Roman Fluegel’s ‘D.I.S.C.O.’ is another palette cleanser, just as Butch’s ‘Lale’ resets the energy before the mix edges towards a close. What’s perhaps most striking is that there’s only one Mind Against track in the whole mix, though every single contribution feels like it was either written by or for them. There are names I wouldn’t normally associate with the brothers, but they remain unmatched in their ability to recontextualize artists within their singular sound. Who knew Aurora Halal had such a soft side or that Tel Aviv’s favourite psychedelic duo, Red Axes, could get so downright euphoric?
This aesthetic cohesion is magnified by the deliberate and patient mixing. Unlike Vynehall’s contribution to the series, there aren’t any DJ tricks that will leave your head spinning. Tracks tend to fade out as a melody or bassline is introduced over the top. It’s careful, workman-like mixing, perfect for immersing us in 78 minutes of contemporary house and techno with a nearly spiritual lilt.
Buy ‘fabric presents Mind Against’ here.