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Baker's Dozen

Semi-Chaotic Elements: Ekoplekz' Favourite Albums
The Quietus , June 4th, 2015 11:11

With his third album on Planet Mu out, Nick Edwards gives us an in-depth trawl through his top 13 LPs, a Baker's Dozen that scans his formative 90s electronica influences and acts as a "reference point" to Reflekzionz

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Wagon Christ - Throbbing Pouch
Initially I thought Luke Vibert was a bit mediocre compared to some of his more talented compadres. The Vibert/Simmonds records on Rephlex were okay up to a point, but with the sneaking suspicion it was just Richard James being overly generous to his Cornish mates. The first Wagon Christ album, Phat Lab. Nightmare, had some strong ideas, but not always well executed. But then came Throbbing Pouch, the record on which Vibert finally found his 'voice' (quite literally, as the opening line about "a little night music for all you night owls out there" is Luke's own voice).

Being a Bristolian, I was of course aware of, and enjoyed, most of the stuff that would become labelled trip-hop, but I actually enjoy this record far more than anything released by Massive Attack, Tricky or Portishead. It had more of a gawky, geeky white boy feel to it. It just felt like a very honest record by someone with an endless curiosity about how music worked and how different bits of other people's records could be slotted together to make new compositions, whilst still allowing the individuality of the composer to shine though. When Vibert sampled jazz, it was more likely to sound like some dodgy testcard muzak than something on Blue Note, which I found very endearing.

The smudgy recording quality of some of the samples impressed me too. The one and only time I met Vibert was shortly after this album was released, backstage at a club in Bristol when he was DJing on a Rising High night. I asked him about how he got those sounds and he said a lot of it was sampled from old cassettes and he wished he had cleaner reference copies. I countered that it was the dodgy recording quality that made them sound so special, but I'm not sure if he agreed with me. And certainly his subsequent work displays little of the lo-fi characteristics of Throbbing Pouch, so I guess it was just serendipity that made this album so special for me. But regardless, there is no denying his immense skill as a selector and manipulator of samples. I listened to the album again in preparation for writing this, for the first time in quite a few years, and it still sounds wonderful. Time has not aged it one iota, because it was never really of its time. And 'Floot' is still one of the finest single pieces of music Vibert ever made, IMHO.


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