Luke Vibert’s 2009 Vibes
In a society where Pop music has monopolized the industry and mass-produced, pre-packaged songs are prevalent on the airwaves and in the hard drives of many iPods, some producers have chosen to lurk in the underground and create sounds of their own, breaking free from any pre-concieved notions of what constitutes “acceptable” music.
The Cornish Electronic music producer Luke Vibert is no exception.
Since the early 90’s, Mr. Vibert has been generating albums, EPs, singles, and remixes in a machine-like manner; all of which contain musical elements of the old and new, which is one of the reasons his fan-base is so stable and always eager to overdose on his colorful sound collages that are diveed out of his bedroom studio.
His newest CD entitled “We Hear You” is simply a drug of an album, that is a throw-back to the overseas producer’s younger days of dabbling in bedroom Electronica experimentation.
Best known for manipulating sounds into delicious acidliscious drops that vibrate, bubble, burst and travel through your earbuds into your eardrums in a stream-like, sometimes abrasive fashion; Mr. Vibert smoothly returns to his British roots of flinging house, hip-hop, and even jazz into a melting pot of yummy noise.
The playful, bass-ridden track “House Stabs” has the ability to possess your hips with each poignant drum-kick, while sexy, hazy vocals wash over the beat with a mesmerizing repetitive sample lyric “sweet love”.
The album takes an austere turn with the track “Dive and Lie Wrecked”. A tribute to the re-insurgence of a late 80’s dance era with it’s acid-inducing atmosphere, the tune’s bassline roars with whompy oscillations that waver from left to right, deep below the shakes and rattles.
As the song progresses, hand claps unite with the beat, all the more persuading the listener to get up out of their chair.
Intervals of squelches and vocal, airy “oooohs” provide just the right amount of surprise when the in-your-face, bombing of bass borders on overwhelming.
Though heavily layered in sounds, there is evidence of a definite Dubstep influence on the track: the deep and grimey underground bassline is amplified making it absolutely impossible to ignore.
The CD’s opening tune “We Hear You” is an anthem to the small but dedicated group of fans who understand Luke Vibert’s U.K. style of using eclectic samples over Hip-Hop beats to create a more well-rounded sound.
Various vocal samples proudly and joyously proclaim “We hear you”, “To the pride in our city”, and “Blend together”. Clear and concise, the tune is a feel good return to the happy, positive days of Musical Youth’s “Pass the Dutchie”.
Though not reggae, “We hear You” has a playful bounce to it thanks to the funkified touch of a jazzy saxaphone that plays over a classy flute.
The song’s message leaves a lasting impression with the repetition of the lyrics “Listen up, man” that progressively slow down like a faltering engine that comes to a halt.
“Belief File” is both edgy and ethereal.
As usual. the bass is turned up, but their is an openness to the song that ambient music favors. Sound seems to travel through a metal tube and lift off at certain high points, while beneath, the sharp drums kick in opposition.
There is a tension between the Dubstep tempo and the transcending coolness of ambience that marks Luke Vibert as a true pioneer in experimental Electronica.
Hailing from the United Kingdom, Luke Vibert has never been shy about using a synthesizer or low-cost analog equipment.
He opposes what most would call Popular music and despises traditional means of music production, i.e. the expensive and glossy record labels.
As a member of underground, Indie labels such as Ninja Tune, which is known for it’s acid jazz, Rephlex, and Warp Records; Mr. Vibert has worked with many other Cornish artists such as Aphex Twin and Squarepusher (a well-known jungle/ drum n’ bass musician), both of which are close pals and heavy influences.
Like his fellow U.K. producers, Mr. Vibert’s music is never boring; he is obsessed with manipulating instrumental sounds until they are almost indistinguishable from their original state.
Even from an adolescent age, the Cornwall native held high interest in sound manipulation and delved into solo-exploration of all that encompasses electronic music and its sometimes loud, sometimes subtle fragments of other genres that ominously prevail in “We Hear You”.
Throughout the years, Luke Vibert has taken on many monikers such as Plug, Wagon Christ, Spac Hand Luke, and Kerrier District.
Though his performance name may waver, his style remains pretty consistent, and it is nearly impossible to confuse his work with anyone elses.
His songs are anything but minimalistic and are almost always heavily layered with urban, otherwordly, and sometimes straight up eerie samples. Vibert’s 2007 album release “Chicago, Detroit, Redruth” is a tribute to early 90’s underground rave music complete with elements of Techno and even Acid-Electro.
The track “Breakbeat Metal Music” is purely genius with its robotic, literal 1978-model Speak and Spell sampling played over bleepy snyth stabs that activate the primal Acid-House lover in each of us who are familiar with early dance music or have heard E.T. utter “phone home”.
“We Hear You” doesn’t fall far from Vibert’s previous releases; the album contains vesicles of acid noise and other familiar auditory trinkets unique to the genre known as I.D.M., otherwise entitled as Intelligent Dance Music.
This category of music essentially relies upon individual musical experimentation as opposed to a set formula for song production, which makes for a playground-like environment for Mr. Vibert and his devices.
The U.K. artist looks at the process of music-making as a chance to mix man and machine; he brings a certain humor and personality into the world of Electronica, which many perceive as a very perfunctory or limited field of music that is just an arrangement of blips and bleeps.
There is nostalgia in his music. For example, the young tune “We Hear You” gives off an air of innocence through it’s old-school vocals and avoidance of synthetic sound; a scratchy sounding effect further evokes the atmosphere of yesteryear complete with the intermittent, fuzzy popping of a needle on an old, vinyl record.
Unlike his 2009 newly released album, the 2004 CD “Sorry I Make You Lush” is full of spacey, futuristic tracks that extraterrestrials would surely consume in mass quantities.
The tune “Sci Fi Staircase” has a manipulated, fat synth sound that constricts at times but consistently hovers over breaking beats like a U.F.O. skimming over a rocky terrain.
“We Hear You” is also dissimilar to 2005’s “Lover’s Acid”; Vibert’s new album lacks the blatant, in-your-face acidity and varied sound frequencies of the synthesizer.
The 2005 track titled “Acid 2000” squelches with computer-generated acid lines and the catchy melody-driven vocal samples include “If your man gives you trouble, just move out on the double, and you don’t let it trouble your brain” which serves to put the listener in a care-free, bubbly state.
All in all, “We Hear You” is a welcome mat for a few old mates: hip-hop beats, jazzy riffs, the occasional acid line, drum n’ bass, funk, and simple 70’s disco grooves.
The album doesn’t try to be something that it is not.
The titles of his songs aren’t pretentious; they merely serve to deliver the essence of each individual tune.
“Pretty Old Acid Music” sounds exactly as the title suggests, that is if the listener is familiar with what “Acid” would taste like in auditory form, then he or she won’t be expecting to hear Rock or Blues or anything straying too far from Electro.
Luke Vibert carries with him a stigma of creating wierd, warped, “out there” music that some might be fast to dismiss, yet “We Hear You” is quite possibly his most relateable album in terms of sound, possibly due to the fact that he incorporates elements of Hip-Hop into most of his songs, further proving his latest music to be universally danceable.
Vibert’s consistent style of utilizing vocal samples provides for a fuller, less-mechanical touch to sound production that prevails in today’s society and in mainstream artists like Kanye West.
I much prefer Vibert’s throw-back tunes bursting with acid, complex noise, and industrial influences to his most current album.
“We Hear You” is not raw or artistic enough to satiate my thirst for melliflouos acidity or Braindance (forward-thinking electronic music that can appeal to the brain and the lust to party).
I enjoy the technical jargon and certain vernacular that comes with the understanding of experimental Electronica and don’t believe “We Hear You” is a true representation of the underground, garage genre.
The album lacks the off-kilter, twisted beats and wacky noises of the producer’s early work that sets him worlds apart from the predictability of American Electronic musicians.
In the end, I would suggest keeping an open mind, letting the music speak for itself, and rating its success or whether or not it really moves you, hits your musical G-spot, or fails to stimulate your Limbic System on the most primordial level.