The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill

Electronica aficionados love declaring their music superior to straight-ahead club tunes....

ELECTRONICA AFICIONADOS love declaring their music superior to straight-ahead club tunes. See, anyone can craft dextrous floor-filling rhythms and seductive loops, while only a select few can knock out ill-formed semi-rhythms and melodies from hell. They’re [I]beyond [/I]creating huge dance hits, not insufficiently talented to do so, and the music rarely sounds better with them because, uh, that’s the point.

Still, even with the above myth debunked, Wagon Christ’s Luke Vibert has previously been able to hold his head up high: his striking, gutsy albums ‘Phat Lab Nightmare’ and ‘Throbbing Pouch’ made sure of that. Yet here, on an album apparently designed as an antidote to the current disposition for gloomy contemplation, his grasp of spiritual invention has gone astray.

‘Tally Ho!’ isn’t specifically a case of half-baked experiments being passed off as shining examples of the avant-garde. Instead, he’s opted for that other staple of electronica: humour. And of the exclusively ‘zany’ kind, predictably, with him mimicking a sex-line conversation on ‘Juicy Luke Vibert’; inventing Hawaiian reggae on ‘Lovely’; deploying huge dollops of ironically pastoral innocence wherever possible; believing myriad chuckles lie in purposely cheap snatches of sound; and then fleshing things out with the keyboard tinklings of a post-rave John Shuttleworth. Thus, a sonic Seinfeld he is not.

However, amid the woozy cabaret and rhythms you definitely can’t get jiggy with, Vibert briefly hits top form on the thrusting breakbeat disco of ‘Shimmering Haze’ and acid splurge of ‘Musical Box’, thereby underlining the near certainty that, while this is one exploration which went badly wrong, more fruitful ones will follow. But sooner rather than later, we must hope.