Prolific, eclectic, and always evolving, Ben Sims' name has been synonymous with quality techno for nearly two decades. His enviable career path mirrors the history of twenty years of popular music in the UK, drifting from hip-hop and reggae into the early days of pirate radio, the peak of acid house, and pummeling hardcore. Sims has always been a precocious listener – in his early teens he would DJ his school's disco parties prior to gaining a reputation as an advanced talent on the rave and club circuit – and his experience is reflected in the timelessness of the selections on fabric 73. Beholden to no specific era or genre beyond the power of their pure transportive grooves, on fabric 73 Sims showcases the restlessly creative selections that continue to make him an essential and inspiring DJ for advanced techno listeners worldwide.
Born in Essex, Sims' childhood was soundtracked by reggae, ska, and radio chart music. After being exposed to electro and hearing local kids dancing to a ghettoblaster in a nearby park, Sims got hooked on hip-hop and bought his first turntable setup at the age of 10. Even now, his DJing is influenced by the sampladelic energy of hiphop, frenetic cutups plucked from their surroundings and repurposed in enhanced form. The ideal of a swaggering MC and the voice as percussive instrument also remains an influence, evident in his canny deployment of exhilarating microsamples in typically instrumental templates.
fabric 73 is full of this vocal detail, with samples folded, creased, and crammed into the spirited techno in a way that suggests a raucous party inside the tunes themselves, and not just occurring amongst those listening. Sims' molecular mixing has a piercing immediacy that doesn't lose sight of musicality, making for an engrossing and impressively fluid listening experience. Heavily influenced by what Sims calls the “perfect and elusive” environment of fabric's Room 2, his long-awaited contribution to the fabric series matches that industrial setting and the depth of experience possible in a dark, sweaty, peaktime room.
"fabric already plays a special role in my life as an DJ as it's one of fave places to play but now the mix CD takes it to the next level. I'm very happy and excited to be a part of the series and cement our relationship further." Ben Sims
fabric 73 was mixed live in sections, with Sims then poring over details, adding edits, and stitching the various parts together in Ableton to form a master mix. Sims' longevity reflects familiarity with a vast trove of techno's musical history, but this mix showcases his ever-evolving
tastes, containing predominantly new and unreleased material as well as favourites from 2013. fabric 73 is a cratedigger's dream, with no fewer than eighteen unreleased tracks and a number of Sims' famed edits, used as transitional bridges but delivering an emotional and percussive wallop that far outstrips their simplicity. In an attempt to make initial listens as immediate as possible, Sims has even refrained from playing out certain unreleased tracks until the CD's official release date.
The beginning of the mix suggests a hush falling over a packed room, Sims taking the decks to the sound of twinkling arpeggios before catapulting into slinky techno. There is an immediate emphasis on granular shifts in tone and timbre, reflecting Sims' superhuman mixing prowess (the mix was recorded on three Pioneer CDJ2000s). Alden Tyrell's “Wurk It” is a jacking and disorienting early peak along with Sims' forthcoming remix of Floorplan, the alias of techno legend Robert Hood. Sims' world is one where the jittery club workouts of L-Vis 1990 rub comfortably against the psychedelic techno of Truncate, and his own Fokus Group alias project sits sandwiched between an unhinged Surgeon remix and newcomers Clouds. Sims allows the mix to artfully disintegrate and rebuild, delving into percussive detail and chordal warmth rarely heard in such assaultive techno. Taking cues from his heroes Jeff Mills and Robert Hood, Sims' mixing is thrusting and minimal without sacrificing thick detail. The tunes are foreboding but also plain fun, as in Sandrien's snide and funky “I Left My Girlfriend In A Club.” There are numerous spiralling rabbit holes and gnashing elemental minimalism, whether it's the 303 purity in a Sims edit of Donnie Tempo's “Tazmanian Virus” or any variety of disembodied whoops, coughs, come-ons, and other vocal tics. A series of Sims' edits and unreleased originals bring the mix to a storming end, with Paul Woolford's “Broken Dreams” establishing a connection to fabric's in-house
Drawing on a rich and unparalleled musical history, Ben Sims' fabric 73 is as much autobiography as it is vision of an uncompromising musical future.