Plug – ‘Back On Time’ LP

Really in to this LP, having rinsed it over the weekend. A debut release of old material from what I’m learning was a legendary underground project about a decade and a half ago; Luke Vibert (also known as Wagon Christ) under the drum n bass alias of Plug. In 1996 the experimental wizardry of Vibert birthed this project in the form of long-player Drum ‘n’ Bass for Papa. I’ve still not heard it, but evidently the record was largely ignored by the drum n bass community at the time, achieving cult status at the time from electronic experimenters looking from outside in to the scene.

On it as always with their reissues, Ninjatune have released the follow-up album for Plug, material taken off DAT tapes that were recorded in the mid ’90s that never saw the light of day. Back On Time bucks the trend of low-quality and overpriced cash-cow represses – an incredible collection of ten tracks never before released that still sound fresh, if not even more advanced than what the digital age has brought us of late (Rockwell excluded).

It’s not hard to see why the mid-90s dnb scene didn’t embrace Plug as much as the Aphex Twin fans might have. Although drum n bass structured (including the ubiquitous ‘amen break’), the building blocks for the music are drawn from outside the rave-associated genre. Boomkat have gone ahead and adopted the “avant-jungle” tag which suits quite nicely I think, given the flowing experimental nature of it. The psych samples would fit comfortable in a Cherrystones or Andy Votel edit, and Alec Empire would be proud of some of the IDM change-ups. It wouldn’t be complete then without some jazzed-out basslines floating across a bit of hip-hop swing, flavours of Wagon Christ joints to come and the more surprising side of Luke Vibert’s DJ sets that we’ve come to love.

Press release below sums up the whole story and the music quite nicely. Massive tip on this.

via Ninjatune

In early 2011 Luke Vibert (who happened to be bringing to Ninja Tune HQ cushions designed like 808 drum machines as a present!) said that he had just found some, long-lost never heard before DATs dated 1995-1998 and entitled Plug. This we are sure will bring bearded pogoing type excitement for many of you but for those that doesn’t happen to here’s a quick recap….

In 1996 Blue Angel Recordings (later Blue Planet) an imprint of the legendary Rising High label released the Drum ‘N’ Bass for Papa album by Plug AKA West Country king of kitschtronica Luke Vibert, whom at that time had only released under his Wagon Christ moniker. The album cover was an old picture of his professional magician grandfather Frank which only added to the oddness in the best of ways. The album was largely ignored by the D’n’B purists at the time, however it was hailed by many beyond, and remains to this day one of the acclaimed records to emerge from the buoyant and hugely influential electronic scene of the south-west in the 90’s. Alongside people like Aphex Twin, Tom Middleton, Grant Wilson-Claridge and Jeremy Simmonds and away from the lights and police of the big cities they put on club nights, filled cassettes with new tunes, hijacked the pirates and revelled in all that was original, twisted and like nothing else before. And whilst there is no doubting the talent of all these individuals, it has always been Vibert’s keen sense of humour and also funk that enabled him to evolve to a stage to make a landmark release such as Drum ‘N’ Bass for Papa.

So a few years later and somewhat ahead of the curve, Vibert shook up D’n’B – at that point no album had been released in the genre that departed from the formulaic template. Avant-jungle that wasn’t made for the “club”, the album was an eccentric bolt from the blue, it shocked many of Vibert’s contemporaries but went on to influence many, most notably Squarepusher.

At the same time Luke’s Wagon Christ project was being snapped up by Chemical Brothers A+R man at Virgin Records for his 3rd album, so a new name was needed for his eccentric d’n’b output, and Plug was born. Until now Plug has yielded just one album – possibly only a humble man like Luke Vibert would have a whole album of top-quality electronic tracks just sat around for over 15 years and not release them. The 10 tracks on offer here include the proto-garage vocal stylings of “Feeling So Special”, the demented circus-organs of “No Reality”, the hilariously titled “Come On My Skeleton”, the old-skool rinse out of “Mind Bending”, the skewed bollywoodisms of “A Quick Plug for A New Shot” and all with impeccably produced jungle credentials as the bed.

Sounding brand new as well as being a lost classic from a electronic icon, Back On Time is a release that anybody interested in the progression of dance music should be very curious to hear and enjoy.