[21 April 2014]
With several monikers and more than 20 albums to his credit, British DJ and producer Luke Vibert has paved the way for electronic innovation since his meteoric rise in the early 1990s. He, along with colleagues Aphex Twin and Squarepusher, has proven instrumental in fusing unconventional sounds to create an amalgam of material populated with accessibility. But with his latest product Ridmik, the artist finds himself at odds with contemplation and creativity, which allows for occasional stumbles and sometimes colorless output.
Not unlike Vibert’s back catalog, Ridmik is a work that feasts on more delectable portions of electronic music. It’s been widely regarded—and described by the man himself—as an acid-house record because of its frequent use of the Roland TB-303, which garnered recognition during the 1980s U.K. dance boom. But as demonstrated by “Stabs of Regret” and “Proper Gander”, a lot of thought went into crafting this album, and the presence of ambient and IDM elements compels listeners to treat it as a work of finesse rather than use it for dancefloor exorcisms.
Despite his intentions, Vibert hits some heavy obstacles. Ridmik may be rife with tempo changes and abstraction, but its middle is plagued with monotony. With the exception of concluding track “Double-Dipped Acid”, tracks four through eight are all similar in structure, clocking in around four-to-five minutes in length and having little personality to show for the investment. This is a little disappointing from Vibert, who, as Wagon Christ, is responsible for creating some cutting-edge work. The album may have seemed satisfactory to him on an intimate level, but it could prompt a lukewarm reception from longtime admirers.
That’s not to say there isn’t imagination at work here. The acid-house genre can be hypnotic because it relies on repetition, but Vibert makes an effort to go beyond the banal thumps-thumps of his predecessors. Made evident on the titular track, the desire to break into more funky, R&B-inspired beats is there and in spurts comes to fruition. This is a quality that makes the album salvageable for a listener who can’t deal with too much uniformity, and it helps raise the overt flatness found in Ridmik‘s later portions.
No doubt inspired by artists on his 2011 Nuggets 3 compilation, Vibert is continually adapting to new sounds and experiences. Ridmik may not be up-to-standard compared to his earlier releases and more inventive endeavors, but it’s blossoming with potential. More importantly, it’s indicative of a new direction—one in which Vibert needs to find proper footing before venturing out into the electro-badlands once again.