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Beatseeking Missives

Luke Vibert/Warp Records

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Luke Vibert
You might say the word "acid" resonates with British producer Luke Vibert. But it doesn't make his mind flash back to hippies turning on, tuning in, and dropping out; rather, acid is the sound originated by Chicago house trio Phuture on their 1987 single "Acid Trax," which sparked a brand of ecstatic electronica marked by the ungodly squelches emitted by Roland TB-303 synthesizers. That unforgettable sound--alternately like a sumo wrestler's bowels rumbling after a wasabi-heavy meal or a rubber band stretched across the equator and being plunked repeatedly--drove thousands of ravers bonkers and inspired many to use it in their own music.

Vibert's new album, YosepH (Warp), pays homage to the 303, which fueled many of the anthems that animated England's 1988 Summer of Love, and consequently catalyzed rave culture worldwide. But on YosepH, Vibert places the squelch within electro's downtempo, ultrafunky context, marinates his neck-snapping rhythms in a season's worth of Star Trek sound FX and tributes to Louis and Bebe Barron's bleepy Forbidden Planet soundtrack, and tosses in enough loopy vocal and EZ-listening samples to double you over with glee.

So is YosepH an attempt to instigate the acid revival?

"If people started making nice, funky acid stuff, it'd be quite nice, but I definitely don't mean to kick-start anything," Vibert says. "I love the sound of the Roland TB-303 and have enjoyed making tracks with it for a while now, but have never really found a suitable home for a whole album of that kind of analog music until signing up with Warp."

Revered by electronica heavies like Aphex Twin and Autechre, Vibert has become known as a producer's producer. For the last decade, he's been lacing cheeky humor into tracks that flit from genre to genre with nomadic restlessness and maverick inventiveness. As Wagon Christ, he issued the landmark 1994 triphop album Throbbing Pouch (Luke likes sexual innuendoes). As Plug, Vibert injected a free-spirited weirdness into the increasingly formulaic jungle genre with 1997's labyrinthinely experimental Drum 'n' Bass for Papa. After a long hiatus from d 'n' b, Vibert has made a stunning return to the style this year with five 12-inches under the Amen Andrews moniker. (Plans are afoot for Luke to cut a disco album with Rephlex Records.) No matter what name he uses, Vibert's music exudes a funkiness that gooses your funny bone and energizes your pelvis with a uniquely lighthearted oddness.

Some people have knocked Vibert's music for being too kitsch and goofy. ("Where are they? I'll kick their heads in," Vibert cracks.) He obviously likes to inject humor into his tracks; what's the main motivation for doing this? With some producers, humorous samples tend to make their music pall more quickly. Does Vibert use these quirks as hooks to make the tracks stick in listeners' heads?

"I never think about the listener when I'm making music," he says. "I'm just... trying to do the best I can for that track. I like to amuse myself when I'm making music, so I suppose that comes out in the listening of the music, too."

With a track called "I Love Acid," an album title that ends in pH, and a perverse trippiness to all of his music, Vibert must've partaken of the hallucinogen. But no. "I've never made tracks under the influence of anything other than booze or spliff," he says. And Clinton never inhaled. DAVE SEGAL

With Plaid, Chris Clark, DJ N.E.D. Tues Nov 18 at Chop Suey, 1325 E Madison St, 324-8000, 9 pm-2 am, 21+, $15 adv.

segal@thestranger.com

 

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