When running on a treadmill, it’s advised to slow the thing down in stages before you get off. If you don’t—if, instead, you hop off and go from full tilt to a standstill—there’s a good chance the floor will still feel like it’s moving, your brain and legs won’t communicate quickly enough, and your teeth will meet the carpet. Breakneck London DJ Sherelle Thomas is the personal trainer who stands next to the machine, edging the speed dial up, grinning as your legs burn into a blur. Jump off if you dare.
It was a raucous, viral Boiler Room set in 2019 that put a rocket up SHERELLE’s career. She’s made plenty of the limelight since, beaming out from magazine covers, launching two labels (one solo, one alongside fellow Reprezent Radio alum Naina), and working on her own productions—one of which, piano banger “JUNGLE TEKNAH,” crops up on this mix. When lockdown hit in 2020 and the UK’s clubs closed for the foreseeable future, she ended up on the BBC’s flagship news show arguing in favor of more support for the sector. Recording a mix for Fabric, the London meat store-turned-clubbing institution, could be just another notch on a well-worn belt, but SHERELLE takes it as an opportunity to hammer time into a flat circle, fusing her own dance music history (she’s described Caspa & Rusko’s foundational FabricLive.37 as her entry point into clubbing) with elements of hardcore rave from the early ’90s up to the present day.
SHERELLE’s contribution to the series, which was relaunched as fabric presents in 2019, arrives at a moment when, in the UK (and on TikTok), breakbeats are back in vogue. It’s a stretch to credit SHERELLE alone with this resurgence, but her teeming enthusiasm has certainly been a factor, and it’s on unbridled display here. She kicks off with Cloud 9’s already-speedy slice of classic 1993 hardcore, “You Got Me Burnin’,” but, this being SHERELLE, the tempo has been upped a couple notches. It feels like a statement; she’s said in the past that she favors “anything at or above 160 [beats per minute],” and clearly won’t settle for less here. But there’s no time to ponder. She’s already into the rapid patter of fellow breaks wizard Tim Reaper’s “Globex Corp, Vol 1. A1” collab with Darlington junglist Dwarde, and the set continues thus. She blisters through 27 songs in 75 minutes, compressing decades of dancing to tightly woven two- and three-minute segments. There’s jungle techno, acid rave, hardcore, and lots of warped footwork repping old- and new-schoolers alike, from Rashad and RP Boo to AceMo and Kush Jones.
fabric presents SHERELLE is a survey of fast music past and (mostly) present that’s as exhilarating (and, sometimes, exhausting) as the Boiler Room show that shot the North Londoner to acclaim. It catalogs a moment in which a new generation is grasping and reshaping a raving past that’s too distant for them to remember. It is not, however, for the delicate of heart, pummelling away beyond 160 BPM for all but the briefest of moments. Some might desire more respite—there’s little calm beyond LCY’s trippy “Bite Off The Hand That Feeds You,” the splash of X-Files pads joining Response’s “Sanity Melting” with Tim Reaper and Worldwide Epidemic’s “Losing Control—but you don’t hire SHERELLE if you don’t like the taste of sweat. Lace up.
Buy: Rough Trade
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