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Meemo Comma
Loverboy Kareem Ghezawi , February 20th, 2023 08:20

Lara Rix Martin’s latest for Planet Mu goes straight for the dizzying highs – and wretched lows – of the oft-eulogised 90s rave scene

As much as the rave scene been romanticised in British culture, the truth is that things can often get messy in a club. In Meemo Comma’s third album, we follow ‘loverboy’ through chatty queues, smokey balconies and sticky dancefloors – and even though he doesn’t always get the same level of love he gives out, he makes sure no-one ruins this night out.

From the first wave to the final crash, Meemo Comma (aka Lara Rix Martin), presents an honest interpretation of the rave experience – or more specifically, the 90 rave scene. That yearning for yesteryear is most evident on opener ‘Cloudscape’ with samples that evoke the choral vocals of Orbital’s ‘Belfast’ and ‘Halcyon On and On’, and in turn, hazy memories of early-morning bus journeys and blissed-out after parties.

On the other hand, tunes like ‘Andro’ and ‘EX-PI’ are still clearly full of the playfulness and experimentation often associated with Meemo and Planet Mu. Loverboy has dusty breakbeat weapons like ‘Ignite’, but it’s also packed to the brim with Autechre-inspired interruption and misdirection. It’s that sense of divergence and dysfunction that gives the record its overall feel of a bittersweet night out.

In ‘Loneheath’, for example, lapping samples simulating a rolling rush get jolted by a recorded speech sample leering, “see you, you cunt, I’ll cut you first”. But like a stoic raver brushing off bad vibes, the beat marches on regardless. The glitchy follow-up skit, ‘Bit of a Boy’, gives in to the sudden assault on the hypothetical ravers’ zen with its cut-off drums and recalled breaks.

At every turn, Meemo rejects the impulse of presenting the rave experience as untouchable and faultless – and that is a good thing. Frankly, it would have been too easy to produce a record of back-to-back old school crowd-pleasers. Even though Loverboy is packaged as an ode to a bygone era, and has a number of nostalgia-inducing bangers – it still feels like it focuses more on the character and energy of the club, as opposed to the artists that have inspired it.

Ask any raver worth their salt, and they will tell you that some of their most profound moments have happened in a club. Press them further, and they might also tell you they have also had some of their worst experiences in a club. From bubbles of euphoria, to drink spiking paranoia; from strobe-lit lusts and pheromonic drifts, to the primal pull of bass and the creeping shadows of bad vibrations. It’s all sonically represented in Loverboy’s blend of comforting 90s nostalgia and disquieting modern volatility.