Plug – Drum ‘N’ Bass for Papa

Released in 1996 by all round musical nutter Luke Vibert, under his junglist alias Plug, Drum ‘N’ Bass for Papa is my favourite electronic album of all time so far. To understand the insanity of the sounds on this record (and much of Viberts discography) you need to understand the geography of it. Vibert lived and grew up in Cornwall, which I’m sure you know is nowhere near anywhere, this lack of major cities (and therefore major clubs) didn’t stop the spread of electronic music though, it just stopped the spread of those that would judge that music if it were not what they wanted to hear on a night out. With this lack of embodied creative blockages, Vibert and his local contemporaries (Aphex Twin included) could proceed to take the new musical styles they saw developing across the UK (drum and bass, jungle, acid house, techno, etc.) and move them away from the dance floors and into their laboratories.

I’ve always had a soft spot for drum and bass and jungle that has clever drum work but Plug takes things to a whole new level, you can tell just by listening to him go mad with the snares on the opening track, Me & Mr Jones. And some time later, on the second disk, you’ll come to Military Jazz, what starts off with some chilled lounge vibes quickly escalates to become what sounds like a frantic robotic jazz drummer locked in a room with only five minutes left to live.

But it’s not just the drums that we are given to keep us interested, a lot of the sounds used in the backgrounds of these tracks sound old, really old, like off an obscure dusty vinyl that used to hold the soundtrack to some ancient film. These orchestral sounds are one of the factors that I think give the album as a whole such a warm feel, and help solidify that timeless quality a lot more than some electro 90’s synths could have. This is demonstrated really nicely on the track Cut (’97 remix), where the first half of the track sets the scene and gets the drums going in full flow before a playful violin part comes in to give the whole song a completely different feel.

Vibert has made music under all sorts of monikers over the years, the most popular probably being Wagon Christ, which he used to release some great albums full of kind of trip-hop’ish music, Throbbing Punch probably being the most famous of them. These days he is signed to the well respected label, Ninja Tune, and is playing shows every now and then under his actual name. Generally it’s very rare that I see his name come up anywhere at all, with podcasts by people like Machinedrum and Stray delving into their own obscure influences being the only exposure I’ve seen him get, which is a shame when you consider how critically well received so many of his albums have been, and how timeless so many of them sound. Hopefully there’s an audience for him out there somewhere that I am just unaware of though.

Luke Vibert’s Ninja Tune page:



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