Review: Gerd Janson – Fabric89


Konstantin Sibold’s ‘Mutter’, released earlier this year, is a robust slice of driving trance which has continued to impress listeners across a multitude of electronic music divides. Forceful, anthemic and direct, it is a track which is powerfully evocative of the pre-Tiësto golden years of trance. Bucking expectations, however, it is a release of Frankfurt’s very own Running Back, a label renowned for its association with house and disco-influenced artists such as Todd Terje and Tensnake. Gerd Janson, a co-founder of Running Back, replicates this musical fluidity within his DJ sets and ‘fabric 89’ is no exception. 

Seeing Gerd Janson live or listening to his recorded mixes, it is clear that, relatively speaking, he has a penchant for the melodic and the tender; the inclusion of the beautifully brittle ‘Elise’ by Blondes in 2014’s XLR8R podcast, for example, is something that most DJs probably wouldn’t entertain. It is therefore fitting that ‘fabric 89’ starts off with a new Luke Abbott remix of what is arguably Running Back’s magnum opus: Todd Terje’s ‘Snooze 4 Love’. Through contrast, Luke Abbott’s irregular rhythmic flourishes greatly enhance the ethereal and dreamy qualities of the original mix. This subsequently segues nicely into ‘Voices (fabric edit)’, a warm piece of bittersweet melodica by the ever-inventive John Talabot. 

Having been a resident at Robert Johnson, the Frankfurt electronic music institution, for several years, Gerd Janson has acquired the requisite versatility of any good resident DJ. As such, an altogether tougher side to ‘fabric 89’ soon emerges. With Traumprinz’s ‘Love Yeah’ proving to be as good a bridging track as any, Shan’s ‘The City Never Sleeps’ follows and it is here that we see where Gerd Janson has been leading us. Although brand new, Frankfurt’s Shan has created an analogue track reminiscent of Chicago’s finest; in this sense, it is not dissimilar to the output of Tuff City Kids, the side-project of Janson and Phillip Lauer. Further classic house sounds are found within tracks such as the Glenn Underground remix of ‘Mess of Afros’ by Q Burns Abstract Message, Inner Sense’s raucous piano stomper ‘MoTP’ and ‘Finished’ by Scott Grooves. 

A house theme therefore underpins the bulk of ‘fabric 89’ but not without several deviations. A significant curveball comes in the form of Boddika and Joy Orbison’s ‘Severed Seven’, a menacing 303-workout that sounds like it’s been salvaged from the depths of the Amazonian rainforest. Janson creatively contrasts this by following up with the bubbly DFA Records-inspired ‘Apex’ by Mateo Murphy. 

Gerd Janson’s ability (and willingness) to mix between different genres is therefore the highlight of ‘fabric 89’, adding a very welcome dynamism and energy in the process. Janson, after all, actually started his music journey in journalism, a career pursued in order to allow him to hear more music and meet the people behind his favourite tracks. This overarching love of music is still prevalent within his sets today, making them a colourful appreciation of music across a wide range of genres. ‘fabric 89’ therefore peaks in the penultimate stage of the mix when Janson smoothly mixes from the pounding techno of ‘Marauder’ by HMC into the playful percussive jam of Joe Claussell’s ‘Rhythm’ into Roger van Lunteren’s hybrid piano-house/acid-house ‘Hills, I Want You’. Not beholden to weighty ideas of genre purity, Janson is similar in this respect to other DJs such as Optimo, Move D and younger up-starts such as Job Jobse and Anthony Naples. 

The mix itself definitely has a harder edge than some of Janson’s previously recorded mixes, e.g. the already-mentioned XLR8R podcast. ‘fabric 89’, however, is a reflection of what to expect from a Gerd Janson set on a night out – a combination of musical diversity and high energy. Having been raised on a musical diet inclusive of early ‘90s Sven Väth mixes, there has always been a toughness underpinning what Gerd Janson plays at peak times (and may I add that, in my experience, this is never guaranteed with other DJs!).

‘fabric 89’ initially felt a little disjointed due to some of the switching between genres but after several listens this feeling disintegrated, allowing a great appreciation for the mix’s fluidity, dynamism, energy and eclecticism to come through. The final track of the mix is a previously unheard Prins Thomas remix of Caribou’s ‘Sun’. It is quite fitting, then, that like Gerd Janson’s approach to DJing, this remix provides a fresh and energetic take on music that has already been out for some time. 

Buy the release HERE

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