Music Reviews

Luke Vibert YosepH

(Warp) Buy it from Insound Rating - 7/10

I spoke/slurred briefly to Luke Vibert at the last All Tomorrow's Parties, and he mentioned that a new album, following up 2001's melodic funk mishmash Musipal, was in the pipeline. However, he neglected to mention that it would comprise of full-on acid techno (well, maybe he did, but my memory of that weekend is a little hazy, to be honest). Still, it's no surprise that he's choosing to resurrect the late 80s on YosepH, even if many of the records of the time, as with most early techno, now sound irretrievably dated (with notable exceptions, e.g. Phuture's Acid Trax); after all, this is the man whose various monikers deal with drum and bass (Plug), squelchy breakbeat/funk hybrids (Wagon Christ) and, most recently, jungle (on the recent Amen Andrews Rephlex 12"s). There is, disreputable sources claim, even a disco album on the way. However, the occasionally dark, occasionally playful melodic signature that Vibert has etched into his previous ventures remains: think Mike Paradinas without the pretty bits.

After a mildly diverting false start (Liptones), Synthax sets the pace with a drunken fruit-fly synth-line circling the first of many straightforward (yet powerful), head-nodding breaks. FreakTimeBaby maintains the strong-yet-easy tempo; synth-stabs punctuate Luke's filter frippery, with the resulting amalgamation surfacing as acid techno that hip hop fans will embrace eagerly. Countdown is closer to straight-ahead acid, before album highlight NokTup (I Care Because You Do-era Aphex Twin meets Wagon Christ's more funk-based elements).

Occasionally, there are dull moments: at least one third of the album is comprised of passable-but-not-incendiary tracks (the idea-free I Love Acid; Snapdance; the 'atmospheric' space station clutter of Ambalek), but these few are more than compensated for by the remaining two-thirds: Acidisco betrays Vibert's love of the BBC Radiophonic crew's eerie, 70s space dramatics. Stan D'Infamy blends the unsettling coldness of electro into the mix, and the title track begins like an evil ice cream van before making the most of acid's sinister, isolating qualities, with the occasional scream reverberating around to create the best 'say no' message since Zammo and his scabby, pock-marked gang won our hearts.

Slowfast, another highlight, maintains the unsettling tone with its schizophrenic crescendos, and if you're listening to YosepH's acid whilst taking acid, you'll probably be either irretrievably disturbed by now, or perched on the windowsill ready to Fosbury flop yourself into the choir invisible. If not, you'll probably still feel like you're going mad, but in an infinitely more enjoyable and manageable way. Despite displaying entrancing production skills that keep even the most straightforward tracks interesting, the majority of YosepH is built on admirably dumb brute force: the 303's dense, liquid sound has never sounded in better hands and the almost-perfect balance between invention and enjoyable brainlessness will satiate synth-spotters and club kids alike. Further consolidation, if any were needed, that faith in Luke Vibert's erratic whims is a risk-free investment. pH 7