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LUKE VIBERT Rave Hop gets 8.5/10


Luke Vibert
Rave Hop
Hypercolour

8.5/10

Beats journeyman Luke Vibert returns in 2020 with not one, not two, but three LPs for Hypercolour. The first two instalments were dropped in each of the last two months, with the final release – Rave Hop – coming out last week.

Each of the three LPs features different styles that Vibert has dabbled in over the years. Amen Andrews is the self-titled album from his junglist producer moniker while Modern Rave focuses on dance flavours on the rave/hardcore tip. Vibert excels in both these styles, and both albums sound effortlessly delicious; a master of production having a whale of a time dishing out scores of top-shelf breakbeat tracks.

So, what exactly is Rave Hop? Whereas the dance-themed LPs have tempos around 120–180 bpm, the Rave Hop pace bounces along at a nice head nodding 80–90 bpm. That standard hip hop beats are half the tempo of drum and bass beats is the reason DJs and producers have been dropping raps over these tracks so easily for years.

Here, Vibert flips that a bit on its head. The tunes move to a steady hip hop beat replete with rhymes, but with sounds and melodies over the top of the beats that are drawn from classic dance music styles from the 1990s and 2000s. Owing to its more chilled beats, Rave Hop is somewhat similar to his Wagon Christ moniker productions, but more fly than trippy.

Of the three albums, Rave Hop is the pick of the bunch, as Vibert’s buoyant melodies and bossa nova sensibilities make for a fun, rollicking listen. Samples of rappers come flying in from all directions over the beats, often in a call-and-response fashion. Many samples are recognisable in a “wink, wink” way for the headz, but Vibert’s choices here are often humorous and largely on point to keep the tracks moving, with a smile coming across your face as you tap your toes. Part of the charm of Rave Hop is to catch lines from some familiar old school rappers cropping up such as KRS-ONE, Phife Dawg (A Tribe Called Quest) and Chuck D (Public Enemy).

Tracks such as Styles, Brain Rush and Music show off Vibert’s deft touch of rhythm, bass and melody. But really, there are stacks of good tracks not only across Rave Hop, but from the other two albums as well. Indeed, there’s a healthy amount of “style bleed” among the three albums, with rapping showing up on the two dance LPs, amen breakbeats in a rave track, soulful divas on hip hop tracks, and things like hardcore synth stabs or samples from science fiction and fantasy movies popping up in unexpected places on any of the albums.

There’s even a sense that each album was drawn from a larger pool of uncategorised, organically assembled tracks. One of the highlights is hearing a sample from Aphrodite’s Music’s Hypnotizing waft in and out of Sikker Beats; a boom-bap affair with Doug E. Fresh rhymes swinging over a funky chicken-scratch guitar. Incongruous? Yes, but oh-so-right.

Luke Vibert has generally been a low-key figure in the beats scene, having come up with his Cornwall neighbour Richard D. James (Aphex Twin) in the 1990s and starting out in jungle, but moving towards a more loungy breakbeat hybrid style that’s all his own.

The Amen Andrews-Modern Rave-Rave Hop series is a kind of career retrospective that’s entirely fresh (or as Vibert loves to sample: “this stuff is really fresh!”). In any case, check out all three LPs if you’re in the market for some upbeat tracks from a beat scientist at the top of his game.

PAUL DOUGHTY

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