abric 36—announced years ago—has become the venerated mix series' most anticipated disc. But in the announcement, Ricardo slipped in that he “prefers for it to be treated like a normal mix CD, with no hype.” Sure. Right. But, then again, take a quick listen to it: because despite the inevitable hype and a cover only a goth could love, Fabric 36 sounds almost carefree enough to actually live up to his modest hopes.
There’s been no lack of swipes at Ricardo Villalobos’ self-indulgence (he's released “singles” that last for 37 minutes). But Villalobos may be trying to save ‘self-indulgence’ from derogatory connotations one release at a time. In his latest, what’s difficult to miss isn’t that he scraps the DJ mix as an outpouring of free publicity (for other artists) but that the mix is the rare modern entity that forces you to listen to an album as a whole. Fabric 36 has highlights but no singles—a series of tracks with only one order. And as imposing as that sounds, it only becomes an obvious fact when you try to listen to parts outside the mix itself.
Thankfully, it’s easy to get lost in the actual mix of Fabric 36. There’s a lightness of touch throughout, leaving sections where Villalobos can transition from the introductory yelps of “Farenzer House” into the taut bass stabs of “Mecker” without batting an eye. In the midst of that section, there’s also a nudging synthpad that fleshes itself out five minutes later in the anthemic pop-rush of “4 Wheel Drive.” With Fabric 36, Villalobos has refined the volatile tangents of “Achso”—tracks are just as rambunctious and twisting, but also ebb with a purpose and destination.
That's also a pretty apt description for this year’s earlier ‘album-mix’ from False. But 2007, despite its breadth of textures, sounds one-note compared to the variety of rhythm and idiosyncrasies on Fabric 36. If 2007 was busy stumbling and scraping itself on concrete sidewalks, then Fabric 36 is a drunken party-host that introduces herself as “Moist.” And she’s not alone on the album’s centerpiece, “Andruic & Japan.” Accompanied by a personal Japanese drummer who blows his nose through a harmonica, she spouts anecdotes (about marriage, dead chickens, etc.) to either invisible guests or to herself—it depends on how demented you think she is.
Either way, she doesn’t seem to take herself too seriously. And it’s refreshing to hear Villalobos ain’t far behind. Sure, he doesn’t ham it up on Fabric 36, but with tracks like the joyful splinter of “You Won’t Tell Me” and the celebratory finale of “Premier Encuentro Latino-Americano,” Villalobos sounds all but ready to throw away his cultivated mystique for something a little more pleasurable. And I’m still ready to indulge him a little more.
Reviewed by: Nate De Young
Reviewed on: 2007-09-21