Son Raw is a sorcerer
Ben UFO is a wizard.
When Hessle Audio artist Bandshell gave a Soundcloud throwaway that title, he found a clever way of saying what everyone already knows: Ben UFO is a very, very good DJ. Combining sounds from the Dubstep Diaspora to more traditional House and Techno in a seamless and often daring way, he not only predicted the rise of a new British take on experimental dance music but also managed to avoid getting stuck in this zeitgeist’s pitfalls. Resisting the urge to move to Berlin and do too much yay (Hi Scuba!), Ben UFO’s radio shows and club sets have kept the raw, kinetic energy that Dubstep lost sometime after the “post” was tacked on to the genre name. Like I said, he’s good at mixing records.
Of course, none of this should matter if you’re not into this kind of high fanutin’ disco music and I’ve made it clear that while I’m no fan of brostep, its arty opposite doesn’t do much for me either. So it’s a testament to Ben UFO’s wizardry that Fabriclive 67 sounds pretty awesome and that he’s able to assemble the straight-laced and off-kilter, new and old, American and European in a way that makes total sense. Tempering this crate digger sensibility with some London rudeness, tracks slip in and out of the mix, never outstaying their welcome and occasionally escorted out via the kind of violent backspin or sudden cut that this kind of music isn’t supposed to embrace. If you’re looking for 6-minute soundscapes for your ketamine trip, look elsewhere. Also get help, that stuff’s disgusting.
While the mix is consistent throughout, the DJ saves the best for last, deploying a number of lethal forward-thinking UK tracks in the final stretch. It’s almost frustrating to watch the ease with which Ben UFO slides in complex, polyrhythmic material by Shackleton, Pearson Sound, Blawan and Joe here, particularly if you’ve unsuccessfully tried yourself. Ironically enough however, it’s his Hessle Audio co-founder Pangaea who provides the one track he can’t totally subsume to the mix: the title track from last year’s Release EP remains too rude, too strange and too snarly to sit comfortably amongst Techno, even Techno as rude as this.
Fabriclive 67 isn’t a game changer so much as a state of the scene address, and it’s been noted that the scene in question is a bit stagnant considering that Ben UFO just released a mix CD for Rinse FM last year. But what this CD lacks in surprises or face-scrunch inducing moments, it more than makes up for in entertainment value and groove, never demanding attention but never quite becoming background music either. Or put another way, it’s an hour of Techno that I’ll be returning to for the next few months. Now that’s wizardry.