Steffi fabric94 fabric
Steffi Doms, like many artists affiliated with Berghain’s in-house label Ostgut Ton, has made a minor art of remaining low-key. It’s a natural response to the shrill, third-party buzz that has attached itself to the most famous – and misunderstood – club in the world, but you sense it comes more naturally to her than others. In interviews she extolls such unsexy DJ virtues as work ethic and seriousness, while her labels remain vinyl-only affairs with little capitulation to promo. The Power of Anonymity was the title of her second album, but it’s her MO too.
Steffi’s decision to use her fabric instalment to deflect attention onto her friends feels perfectly in character, then. Each one of these tracks was commissioned by Steffi according to brief and, from the opening strains of L.U.C.A.’s police scanner radio and processed guitar, we’re in world building territory: evocative pads drift and circulate like planetary atmospheres across the opening stretch until Dexter, one of Steffi’s oldest collaborators, ushers in the metal-on-metal machine funk of 66. Indeed, while Steffi is best-known for channelling Panorama Bar’s deep and classicist house impulses, her fascination with electro and the IDM of Warp and Rephlex has long informed her style – and clearly her brief here. For some listeners, the pivot between the Drexciyan atmospheres of the sublime first half, and the Detroit-inspired electro funk of the second may prove a throwback too far, but boy, does she sell it. The way she used Dolly affiliate Afik Naim’s ascetic, 808 rhythms to raise the curtain on Dexter and Virginia’s ostentatious Off the Beat betrays a sensitivity to cadence and dynamics that only a decade-long residency at Panorama Bar can confer.
fabric 94 is a snapshot of Steffi at her most headstrong and idiosyncratic. A decade-plus at the top-tier and she’s still capable of surprising us – in a low-key way, of course.