Album Reviews

Plug – Back On Time

(Ninja Tune) UK release date: 9 January 2012

Plug is one of Luke Vibert’s many monikers. The West Countryman isprobably best known for his releases as Wagon Christ or KerrierDistrict, but in the mid ’90s he used the Plug identity for a handfulof drum and bass related EPs, and a solitary album each on the Blue Planetand Rising High imprints. Back On Time, released through Ninja Tune, sees some ofhis unreleased Plug material created from 1995-98.

So why now? Apparently some of these tracks were recentlydiscovered on lost DATs, and so see the light of day aftera discussion with the label last year. As one would expect, thesound is very much akin to his Drum And Bass For Papa LP – an albumthat garnered a fair amount of critical acclaim, but was not a hugehit with the clubbing junglists, who perhaps found the Cornishman’stake on the genre as overly left-field, with his experimental sound andoff-kilter samples.

Anyone who has ever listened to any of Vibert’s copious body of workwill understand that his production skills are extremely refined,and these 10 tracks prove the point. This collection seems to cover more stylesthan the original LP, but a few heavy leanings toward other producerscan be picked up on.

The opening funky roller Scar City sets the scene well, but thereare several tracks which could have been included on the original PapaLP: Feeling So Special uses more of a house vocal sample, and Come On MySkeleton uses funky Eastern strings in its agenda. No Realityhas the kooky Plug organ keys, but the vocal is funkier and lessabstract.

A Quick Plug uses a Sitar sample and busts along with a tough drumand bass percussive which works very well, and seems crafted for amore conservative dancefloor, with less of the Plug quirkiness. Thetitle track uses warped bass to good effect, and with its sweepingsynths, pacey BPMs and the mutated sample, it has the definitivePlug feel.

Mind Bending noodles along initially, then takes heavy influencefrom Photek‘s Seven Samurai, then overuses its obtuse samples -relating to Acid House using synthesised speech in the fashion of a Speak’n’Spell console. Drum And Bass tries an old school jungleformula – a stepping breakdown, frantic, but overly distorted keys -and leans on Spring Heel Jack’s forays into breakbeat in 1996.

The highlights are Yes Man, again more arranged for the dance floor -punchy bass, a touch of jazz, and intricate crystalline twinklesjuxtaposing the Ragga style sample – and Flight 78, which ends thecollection of missing tracks in a polished display of several stylesof breakbeat techno.

This release is a good trip down memory lane. Although not earthshattering, it’s all of a high standard with no real nadirs. Itprovides another very welcome insight into the creative mind of thisrather talented individual, and certainly adds to the curiosity as to whyVibert did not release more material as Plug.

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Plug – Back On Time