Motor City Drum Ensemble finds human connection on triumphant mix for fabric

In Magazine, Reviews by Editor

Image: Fabric

The concept of the recorded DJ mix has never been more relevant than in our current moment. In the absence of nightclubs and music venues, DJs turned to recorded content to keep the party going. The lack of a live audience removed the necessity to play music that kept the crowd alive and meant that for many, this was an opportunity to showcase their musical points of view and skills as tastemakers. Motor City Drum Ensemble, the moniker of Danilo Plessow, has alway been an indelible tastemaker. 

Over the course of his career, Plessow has established an iconic reputation not only for his technical prowess, but inherent skill as a selector. His infatuation with rhythm has seen him produce sets that are unique in their eclecticism, pulling from influences that span genres and decades. His methodology finds in these influences often less apparent commonalities, using these to link music in visionary ways. The obsessive way in which Plessow goes about selecting music has resulted in a renowned collection of rare records, and perhaps his greatest gift as a DJ is the skill he possesses to weave these extensive sounds into succinct, continuous streams that often feel narratively inclined.

This is the case with his mix for fabric, the latest edition to fabric’s ongoing vinyl mix series that has seen previous offerings from Amelie Lens and most recently, Overmono. Recorded entirely during lockdown, Plessow reached out to friends across the world and asked each one what meaning music held for them in their lives. The responses he received, as eclectic as his selections, are weaved into the mix as anecdotes that provide a contextual  throughline and add an incredibly deft sense of human connection. 

The mix itself is a marvel; spanning styles from ambient orchestral to rare cuts of disco and pieces of 90’s electro that have never before been available digitally. Plessow’s selections feel distinctly global, and in combination become a sonic roadmap through the pulse and textures that have shaped his craft. What unfolds is an incredible display of his affinity to seamlessly blend forms and phrases that would otherwise be considered distant.

The journey begins with the combination of the organic percussion of tablas by Chilean-French jazz-rock group SKUAS intertwined with American composer Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith’s twinkling synth composition, Understanding Body Messages. This introduces a first act defined by dubby, jazz infused house featuring the likes of Scientist and Basic Channel. Plessow then flows into more electronic territory, with breakbeats and 90s-leaning tech-house becoming the dominant aesthetic. Plessow’s extensive library and unmatched taste blend underground artists such as Iridium and the cosmic techno of Sansibar with the likes of Cabaret Voltaire and previously unreleased gems such as Family Unit’s Freak (House Mix). 

The mix feels celebratory in a sense; there isn’t a moment where it stops dancing, maintaining a sense of rhythm and pace designed to make you feel the throb of each element in your body. Plessow closes the set with the impossibly stylish disco groove of John Kongo’s I’m Dreaming, capping off what is at large an extended love letter to the power that music has to connect us even at our most disconnected moment. 

fabric presents Danilo Plessow (MCDE) is available to download digitally here. The package includes the full continuous mix as well as an accompanying compilation featuring the individual tracks. Listen to Nightfall, an original track by Plessow featuring Francesco Geminiani & Peter Schlamb as featured on the mix below. 

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