I've had the genuine pleasure of reviewing several of these now. And 67 in the 'Fabric Live' series is indeed special. It brings together 17 tracks selected and blended by a DJ whom I've loved and respected for a great many years. In fact, over the last decade or so, his following, though small when you compare it to the likes of Hawtin or May or Vath or many other 'names' in the techno family of DJs and producers, is to every extent loyal and steadfast. You could even call him a 'cult favourite' in every sense of the word. To some of you who probably know him well enough, he also used to be the lead singer in synth pop band, Second Voice. Now, or well over a decade, Thomas Franzmann, better known to his fan base as Zip, has been building upon his fan base by just simply being an awesome DJ. And if that isn't enough to boot, he's also the co-founder of Perlon, one of the best and most respected house and techno labels in the universe, which he runs with partner and former band-mate Markus Nikolai out of Berlin.
I've had the pleasure of watching Thomas DJ only once at MUTEK in Montreal in 2009 with Ricardo Villalobos. I remember that cold, dark, rainy afternoon in the park quite vividly actually. As vividly as I recall the sun making a sudden entrance, in perfect time to the drop 'The Climax' by The Paperclip People as he did. I also remember vividly, a whole sea of raised hands at that moment, and suddenly, amidst the cold, there was a warm fuzzy feeling all over.
As many of you who've followed Thomas along his path know, he likes to keep a low profile. He plays in Berlin much more than anywhere else, and mostly at Panorama Bar, where he and Sammy Dee have hosted Get Perlonized on the first Friday of every month for the past eight years. He does this by choice actually, and for a DJ that leans heavily towards the obscure, unreleased, or even never-to-be-released material, to have him on a Fabric mix makes this even more interesting. Technically he's never done a mixed CD before, aside from his Superlogevity compilations, I could only think that the complications in licensing some of the more obscure material he's known for playing, coupled with other red-tape realities that surround the release of a mixed CD for commercial release often prove to be arduous and problematic. On his fabric mix, Thomas just simply says, "I did the mix with two record players, two CD players and my favourite mixer. I was alone in my studio and it felt just like it did when I was doing a mixtape ages ago. Only this one comes with slightly more pressure."
Now we've all heard mixtapes before and given the expectations of the modern digital world, many would expect a mix filled with quick cut-in's, three (sometimes, four) deck 'mastery', massive efx overdrive, and all the other studio dressing room shenanigans that come with many other mixed compilations currently on commercial release. Let me just warn you that there are NOT going to be any of those WTF moments here. It's just the magic and energy of a Zip DJ set poured out on disc, and a tribute to the man's great many years of experience and his excellent ear for a good groove as well.
He doesn't waste any time either, kicking off the mix with hypnotic and ethereal 'Dreams' by Vedomir and after slipping seamlessly into San Proper & Steven De Peven's 'Pam Pam', he proceeds to take your mind and feet on a rhythmic trip. It's quite captivating to hear him use vocals to morph his way through and between certain tunes, something he employs to perfection in the first half of this mix, and right thorough Nail's 'Till the Feeling's Gone' and Melchior Productions Ltd's 'She Like', he creates a slick seamless flow without rushing into anything, taking his time to build the groove and holding the attention, even to a mesmerising degrees at times.
The clipped, broken drums of Pluto 's 'Point Blank' act as a minimal interlude to the four-on-the-floor structure of the mix and, without interrupting the flow, proceeds to break back into funky hypnotic territory with G. Marcell's 'Excites Me', Jovonn's 'Satisfied' and Twin TM's 'The Fall of the House of Shadows'. He's not too shy with his use of bonus beats and DJ tools either as he does so eloquently between Soul Capsule's 'Seekers' and Dan Curtin's 'Convergence' - I don't see too many DJs doing that these days, and I've always felt that it's something that adds to the magic really, something one would relish engaging the atmosphere on a dancefloor to a Zip DJ set.
The mix proceeds into a deeper and slightly more jazzier domain now as it explores the more versatile side of Zip. Right through Sakro's somewhat abstract 'Jazz in the Forest' to the sparse, disjointed technicality of DJ QU's 'Everybody's Dark', and again, employing the use of tools to transition between tracks as he does with the Pyramid Bonus beats of Scott Grooves' 'Expansions', with the effervescent mastery of Roy Ayers and the hauntingly deep and funky 'Return of the Speaker People' by Terrence Dixon; Kausto's Sudden Aphasia Mix is the one called into play here.
Zip winds up on more experimental ground with the choppy and distorted lead melody on The Sun of God remix of Armando & Steve Poindexter’s ‘Blackholes’ and the quirky playfulness of Isolée's 'Music', testifying once again his penchant for the obscure and demonstrating, with verve and unobtrusive style, his ability to swing them into the mix with the greatest of ease.
Honestly, for those who've been exposed to or gravitate solely towards the normal and mundane, they'd find this mix to be a tad dull. But, allow themselves to understand the general idealism behind a great DJ set and the ability to take a daringly different approach to it, and it may just grow on them. To be fair, there's nothing like experiencing the man live, as I did in Montreal. But, having said that, even on a bad night, Zip still manages to pull a few rabbits out of the hat...doves even, and at times, maybe even a lion! This probably isn't the best Zip set to draw any comparison to, but it's worthy of an add to your collection, if only to understand that, as with a new year now upon us in 2013, DJing has got to come back to DJing and that can only mean, back to basics. And with this mix, it's not only a testimony or shout out to the future, but also a hint to the new and up and comer's to approach the year ahead with daring aplomb. Let this mix serve as a good example for starters. Enjoy it as I did, and have a great start to a brand new year.
01. Vedomir - Dreams
02. San Proper & Steven De Peven - Pam Pam
03. Nail - Till The Feelings Gone
04. Melchior Productions Ltd - She Like
05. Pluto - Point Blank
06. G. Marcell - Excites Me
07. Jovonn - Satisfied (Moodyfied Mix)
08. Twin TM - The Fall Of The House Of Shadows
09. Soul Capsule - Seekers
10. Dan Curtin - Convergence
11. Sakro - Jazz In The Forest
12. DJ QU - Everybody’s Dark
13. Scott Grooves feat. Roy Ayers - Expansions (Pyramid Bonus Beats)
14. Terrence Dixon - Return Of The Speaker People (Kausto's Sudden Aphasia Mix)
15. Kenny Larkin - Drone
16. Armando & Steve Pointdexter - Blackholes (The Sun Of God Remix)
17. Isolée - Music