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Compilation of the Month: SHERELLE ‘fabric presents SHERELLE’

The UK’s most electrifying DJ hits another landmark with her fabric mix: a euphoric, adrenaline-laced trip into pressurised breakbeat chaos

Some artists tone it down a bit for mix compilations. The knowledge that their set will be subject to repeated home-or headphone-listening leads to more contemplative track choices — an ambient introduction, perhaps, or a jazzy interlude. Others opt to fully recreate the in-club experience, in all its blurry, sweaty abandon. Both routes are valid, but it’s a relief that London jungle-footworker SHERELLE decided to take the latter with her ‘fabric presents’.

The mood is set with the opening squeal of sirens from Cloud9’s Moving Shadow classic ‘You Got Me Burnin’’ — pilfered from Quincy Jones’ ‘Ironside’ theme, though probably familiar to most thanks to Tarantino’s Kill Bill films. Things are about to get very intense. 

Over the next 76 minutes, SHERELLE unleashes pressurised breakbeat chaos. Chunky jungle tekno like Dev/Null’s ‘DarkPhase’, with its meteor shower of steely percussion, hurtles into the manic Amenism and killer bee bassline of Dutchman FFF’s ‘U92’ remix and S. Kid’s ‘Oasis’. The gears shift again, dropping to the crunchy, ritualistic shimmy of darkside hardcore by R-Core and Vince Rollin, before thundering into the helter-skelter mania of NewKiller’s ‘The Dark’ and squeaky sing-along refrain of 1993 Q-Bass cut ‘Deepa’.

Around the 40-minute mark, Kush Jones’ bullish ‘Fuck Off’ (a response it’s likely received from many a screwfaced raver) rounds off the junglism, and SHERELLE begins the dive towards her first love: footwork. Though a comparatively short section, tracks like the technoid ‘Destroy The Matrix’ by Neuropunk and DJ Phil’s funked- up ‘House Monster’ satisfyingly scratch the itch, before another run of breakbeat-powered damagers see us out.

Key throughout is SHERELLE’s embrace of the past and the present. She’s always been outspoken about the importance of knowing one’s history — despite not always being fully welcomed by the old guard — and that’s reflected in choices like Aphrodite’s 1994 cut ‘Navigator’, or ‘Acid Bit’ from DJ Rashad’s iconic 2013 album ‘Double Cup’. There’s no shortage of contemporary acts either, such as INVT, a Miami duo she’s been championing for some time, New Yorker AceMo, and the seemingly omnipresent Tim Reaper, who appears on collaborations with Dwarde and Worldwide Epidemic.

In April, Reaper performed back-to-back with SHERELLE at the London Coliseum theatre for fabric’s London Unlocked live-stream series — one of lockdown’s defining sets. In a perhaps engineered, but more likely serendipitous case of synchronicity, another of SHERELLE’s recent b2b partners, Chicago footwork original RP Boo, with whom she performed at Unsound Festival in October, also appears twice — on the aforementioned ‘House Monster’, and unpacking Basic Rhythm’s ‘2 Da Core’ into its base components.

The appearance of SHERELLE’s own thumping rave weapon, ‘JUNGLE TEKNAH’ — which first reared its head in her award-winning 2020 Essential Mix — rounds off a year when she’s made strides in that area, self-releasing her debut single ‘160 DOWN THE A406’ during the summer. She also featured on the debut release of her new label BEAUTIFUL — a compilation where, conversely, she did flex her experimental ear, signing tracks that ranged from jazzy garage to jungle, glitch and psychedelic R&B.

‘fabric presents SHERELLE’ is not only the adrenaline-laced icing atop another standout 12 months for the UK’s most electrifying DJ, but it’s the ideal summary of a year when all of us spent time both pining for this kind of kinetic euphoria, and then out frantically enjoying it.

Revisit our December 2020 cover feature with SHERELLE here

Ben Hindle is DJ Mag's deputy editor. You can follow him on Twitter @the_z_word