The lines between dance genres have seldom been so finely divided as they are in 2011, and few artists epitomise this notion as well as Londoner David Kennedy. Since his relatively recent arrival to the scene in 2006 releasing under monikers including Pearson Sound and Ramadanman he has touched on nearly every tempo and style imaginable.  He is probably best known for putting out avant-garde dubstep on labels such as Swamp 81 and his own Hessle Audio imprint, but he has also released house, techno and drum & bass, and it’s this eclectic, open-minded approach to bass music that Kennedy wears on his sleeve on the latest in the Fabriclive mix series.

Opening with smooth 120bpm house Kennedy is happy to build anticipation slowly, with the Pearson Sound opener “Hawker” standing out with its sparse interplay of bass stabs and reverberated chords. However it isn’t long before the first of the album’s many surprises: the tempo picks up on Tiyiselani Vomaseve’s “Vanghoma”, an infectious and playful number whose South African vocal chorus permeates the mix unashamedly. It’s hard to say that it works, but its inclusion is a bold move that belies Kennedy’s spirit for musical adventure.

Julio Bashmore’s now anthemic “Battle For Middle You” marks a transition into more marked house and garage territory and puts some of Kennedy’s own productions to the forefront, such as the excellent new Pearson Sound piece “Project.” Kennedy takes plenty of pleasure in teasing the listener with awkward key changes (exemplified by the arrival of Martin Kemp’s remix of J Kenzo’s “Ruckus”) and never quite lets the middle section of the mix find a perfect groove.

The ever surprising MJ Cole & Wiley collaboration “From The Drop”, Pinch’s “Qawwali” and a flawless, hand in the air mash-up of Joy Orbison’s vs  Ramadanman’s “J. Doe Them” signal the high point of the mix, the latter particularly emphasising Kennedy’s fine DJ credentials, however he seems to let his desire to cram in as much as possible get the better of him as the album stutters towards its close – there is simply too much going on to appreciate it fully, and it’s only Sigha’s ambient finisher “Light Swells (In A Distant Space)” that puts an end to the chaos.

Overall, Fabriclive 56 is solid but not groundbreaking, its eclecticism prevents proceedings from ever being built to an overwhelming peak as the frequent shifts of key and style reset the energy at frequent intervals. What’s more important is what the album reveals about the state of bass music right now and particularly the emerging dubstep/house scene – a little unsure of itself and yet to be clarified. As the trend gathers pace over the coming months we’ll see it come closer to becoming fully realised, but unfortunately Kennedy hasn’t quite pulled it off here.

Fabriclive 56 is out today on Fabric Records.

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