Luke Vibert is one of a new breed of European club music experimentalists whose work spans several genres simultaneously, and is one of a very few of that set to make any headway with U.S.
audiences. A native of Cornwall, Vibert's work has been compared with other West Country bedroom denizens like Aphex Twin and µ-Ziq, although his output over the past few years has been far more eclectic than that connection would seem to imply. Beginning with tweaky post-techno and moving through ambient and experimental hip-hop as Wagon Christ and, more recently, experimental drum'n'bass as Plug, Vibert has explored the outer reaches of post-techno electronica without sounding hasty or swank. Although Vibert's first musical experience was in a Beastie Boys knockoff band called the Hate Brothers, he quickly moved into the low-cost environment of solo bedroom composition. Although he had no intention of ever releasing any of the work, his reputation as a creative young voice in stylistic crosspollination has created an increasing demand for his pioneering, often left-field work.
Vibert became involved in electronic music through his passion for hip-hop (he has commented that hip-hop is the only music style he really keeps up with), as well as the environment of bedroom experimentalism associated with the swelling late-'80s U.K. dance scene. He released an album through the Rephlex label (a solo album nonetheless billed as Vibert/Simmonds) before coming to the attention of Caspar Pound's Rising High label. As a result of the growing exchange value of the style, RH commissioned an ambient album from Vibert, who, despite never having heard much ambient, delivered the well-received Phat Lab Nightmare under the Wagon Christ name in 1993. Silent (but for the quickie EP At Atmos) for nearly two years following its release, Vibert came back in early 1995 with Throbbing Pouch, a collection of minimal, funky, off-kilter hip-hop that had fans familiar with his earlier work scratching their heads. Though lumped in with the so-called "trip-hop" movement attributed to Portishead, Tricky, Massive Attack, and the Mo'Wax label, the album's upbeat, cheeky edge was anything but stony and laid-back. Following up with a number of remixes and a Mo'Wax EP under his own name, Vibert embarked on his next major mutation with his Plug project, releasing a trio of sample-laden, epileptic jungle EPs, as well as the Drum'n'Bass for Papa LP in 1996. Two years later, Wagon Christ earned worldwide distribution with his signing to Astralwerks/Virgin and releasing Tally Ho!. After one more on Astralwerks, a collaborational record with guitarist B.J. Cole called Stop the Panic, Vibert returned to the green fields of independent labels. During the 2000s, he recorded two LPs for Ninja Tune (2001's Musipal and 2004's Sorry I Make You Lush), while exploring different styles under different guises (throwback acid techno as Kerrier District and his own name). He returned to Wagon Christ in 2011 for his third LP on Ninja Tune, Toomorrow. ~ Sean Cooper, Rovi