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Craze - Fabriclive 38

Released on Fabric, 3/11/08

Fabric is a nightclub in London that -- a la Factory Records in the 80s -- releases albums. The label has booked 40 live-mix albums from DJs and producers like Diplo, James Murphy, and Justice (whose forthcoming mix will drop in June). The most current installation features the prodigal DJ Craze.

Craze is a champion turntable-ist. He's won more scratch competitions than most, set a few world records, survived hurricanes, Nicaraguan warfare, and anonymity. With Fabriclive 38, he arrives as a dance-floor controller.

A quick aside: this is an amazing way to listen to music. Craze's Fabriclive 38 flies by, smashing more than 30 artists into 27 tracks in 74 minutes. All the tracks are tolerable and most are interesting. Craze distributes the weight of the mix evenly between his mixing, scratching, and the artists, which range in style from hip hop to dance rock to Jan Hammer's "Miami Vice Theme". In the end, the mix proves educational, like Cliff's Notes for an album's-worth of exciting talent.

Favorite moments include Kanye West's cameo on the Kid Sister rave-up track "Pro Nails", Cool Kids' slow-banger "I Rock", and Eli Escobar's remix of Chromeo's glassine "Bonafide Lovin'". These tracks succeed without rising too far above Craze's stellar mix. Instead, they sit next to tracks that are less familiar and just as good.

Craze runs a narrative through Fabriclive 38. The first half-dozen songs are dedicated to a woozy, half-speed hip hop experience, and Craze returns to this vibe by mix-end. The middle act (starting with Hammer's "Miami Vice Theme") ups the tempo, letting the party-vibe boil over and take off.

Even in dance mode, Fabriclive 38 still explores origins and boundaries. The mix's strongest six minutes come when, amidst a flurry of fierce electronica and 80's nostalgia, Craze mixes Earth, Wind and Fire's "Brazilian Rhyme" into Armand Van Helden's "I Want Your Soul" into Debbie Deb's "When I Hear Music". He replaces the retro vibe with retro tracks, all peppered with distinct scratches and up-to-the-minute backbeats.

History is rarely this coherent -- which is why Craze's Fabriclive 38 mix is a real treasure.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars