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The Lead Review

Pick 'N' Mix: Luke Vibert Presents… Amen Andrews, Modern Rave, & Rave Hop
Esme Bennett , June 26th, 2020 07:39

Rephlex alum Luke Vibert relives his youth on a career-spanning trilogy of new releases through Hypercolour records

As Luke Vibert himself once said in an interview with Resident Advisor: “there’s a lot to be said about not knowing what the fuck you’re doing”. Although Vibert now, certainly, knows exactly what he’s doing, a zeal for pastiche and thrown-together familiarity continues to encompass his style.

Vibert has always been something of an enigma to emerge from the Cornish Rephlex nebula; behind the name he has amassed a plethoric and varied discography, and at the centre of it all is an unabashed curiosity for zealous combinations, with a certain humour beckoning those to venture closer.

This summer, he graces us with an extensive three-part trilogy released on Hypercolour, the rave friendly label who must treasure Vibert like a crown jewel. The first begins with a microscopic glimpse into the renowned ‘Amen Break’, Luke Vibert Presents Amen Andrews, a feast of earthly pleasures for the 90s junglist. Centred around the legendary drum loop from the Winston's 1969 b-side 'Amen, Brother’, the album conjures up a breakbeat utopia, familiar whilst being patterned in euphoric oddity. Following that comes this week's, Luke Vibert Presents Modern Rave, a scattered homage to the heyday of rave. Finally, a joyous mashup of breakbeat and his adored hip-hop, Luke Vibert Presents Rave Hop, is to follow in July.

Vibert has operated under many different monikers: Wagon Christ, Plug, Amen Andrews, Kerrier District, Spac Hand Luke, the list goes on. But, within this vast body of sounds, he is unequivocally Vibert – a glorious mix of it all. Throughout the infamous worldwide tours in 1996 with friend and collaborator Richard D. James, a bemused and relatively shy Vibert can be seen in dredged up YouTube MTV interviews, often asked more about Aphex Twin than his own work. A plethora of artists that are perhaps underrated compared to the buzz of R.D.J. surround the Rephlex period, but just a short glimpse into Vibert’s Discogs page will greet you with a swarm of die-hard fans who make you think twice about ever overlooking his material.

To take a look back, Vibert’s initial release under his own name with James Lavelle’s cult trip-hop imprint Mo Wax, A Polished Solid, was an abstracted piece of his own humoured hip-hop, and a confirmation that Vibert’s appetite for absurdity is unwavering. Moreover, Vibert’s first record with his school friend Jeremy Simmonds, Vibert/Simmonds is another key reference point, an eccentric techno album with a seminally Brit core. Vibert’s choppy mixing style is the one and only thing that defines a man with so many differing works under his belt. The question often arises, does he get bored easily?

Luke Vibert Presents… Modern Rave is, first things first, a beautiful mess. A cleverly syncopated collection of Vibert’s vast and expansive hard drive, the chopped samples and glimpses into the rave revolution in the UK and beyond that rippled through the 90s with a fluorescence that refused to be extinguished. Uniting the population, the summers of rave stand now as lost days of real change, particularly May Day of 1994, when the government’s Criminal Justice and Public Order Act threatened the scene which was lending a voice to the rippling underground electronic scene.

Since the dawn of rave, Vibert has been there. Hailing from Redruth and heavily associated with the Braindance fellowship, Vibert harnesses a polyamorous vigour for club culture and a multi-layered set of references, his only constant being collaging, embracing the trips and laughs along the way. Our habit of turning back to the heydays of rave euphoria (a confession: 1996 was the year I was born, so I’m not going to pretend to that I was there), seem to be unwavering despite the intimidating influx of new genres and styles, and those years remain tinted in gold for reference points in acid, jungle, breakbeat and all manner of mischievous happenings. The bouncy ‘Feel One’ centres around a sample of off-beat ravers Bizarre Inc.’s ‘Such A Feeling’, already soaked in old school flair with an acid break, while its counterpart ‘Feel Two’ shimmers with euphoric decadence. Somehow, well-worn tropes that carry a weight of genre, both subtle and glaringly obvious, makes this part in the trilogy arguably the best. Offbeat, awkward sampling on the whole album transports you to a Vibert set, far away in the sun. Throughout it all, the great sense is you’re being carried along Vibert’s own unquelled curiosity.

Particularly sunny is the almost painfully feel-good ‘The Music’, bouncing between a brash DJ Scud sample and Venus 1999’s classic ‘The Music Just Turns Me On’, glowing with 90s spark hurled headfirst into 2020. ‘Groovy Break’, is a multi-layered bash, straddling club genres effortlessly. The lushness of Chicago synth-work, merged with acid samples and a leaping break is nothing short of joyful, and deliberately unexpected at every turn. It might feel a bit too cheesy at times (the slightly washed out ‘Ecstasy’ feels like it misses the mark a bit) but those who love Vibert are clearly more than okay with that. Moreover, the infectious drum programming on tracks like ‘Dream’ mean you overlook those generic points and just sit back and appreciate the technique. Feeling a lot like his revered ‘I Love Acid’ track injected with speed, the track ‘Acid’ revolves around a squelchy bassline and incessant vocal loops. It's corny in all the best ways, with infectious sirens that take you to that sun-soaked inebriated special place – which may be closer than we think.

In line with the release are reports that the illegal rave renaissance of ‘89 may be enjoying a second coming after months of caged repression. With the ease of lockdown measures and the nightclub doors remaining firmly bolted shut (and no indication from the government on when they may open again) there have been an excess of illegal parties spanning from industrial sites to motorway underpasses, including a well-behaved socially distanced rave in a Nottingham forest last month. The question arises whether the allure of the DIY party scene, in all its unregulated and shabby glory is as ‘revolutionary’ and appealing as it was back in ‘89. In terms of the actual music, with so much in the way of easy access to the soundtracks of our current clubland compared to the mystery of pre-internet track hunting, one could say some, if not all of the magic has faded away from the real heydays of rave. The collaged style in which Vibert uses nostalgia-inducing sampling, whilst being charming, sometimes brings to light feelings of vacant displacement, as the rose tinted look at the illegal rave renaissance and all its cultural add-ons continues to be a look to the past rather than a recognition of the immense changes that have taken place between then and now.

Nevertheless, it’s a fun trip to be lead down on. Some tracks on the record are just no-nonsense fillers, neither revolutionary nor boring – particularly the track ‘Better Forward’, mingling far-away vocal inflections with groovy house beats. The smooth hitter ‘Fresh’ is undeniably a copy-n-pasted rave hitter, an ensemble of breakbeats and vocal loops. It's tracks like this that make you believe Vibert can, sometimes, chill and allow generic stylings to take centre stage.

Yes, Vibert has done this cut-n-paste formula to death, but no-one flexes this parodic guise quite so effortlessly. Purveyor of handing a window into the by-gone days that are not so far gone after all. At a time where music can be often pain-strikingly serious, the cathartic output from Vibert is refreshing and vibrant in its boldness, softly jesting with an audience who can’t help but look back over their shoulder.

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