VA: Vibon 2: Blip-Pop Click

Given the jumbled array of blurred nightclub photos and misaligned typography on this comp's packaging, the neophyte listener could be forgiven for anticipating an aural equivalent of wild Mego DSP or breakbeat BPM mania. Far from it, the comp's eleven tracks instead prove to be melodic electronica of a most distinguished sort, its music collectively recalling labels like Warp, Morr, CCO, and Audio Dregs while managing to avoid too great a kinship to any one in particular. Liner notes characterize the collection's content as “blip-hop, hip-pop, trip-pop, click-pop, experimental and bugout,” a description that goes a long way towards suggesting the music's mercurial and wide-ranging qualities. The recording is the second collection in the Vibon series from the Philadelphia label tbtmo, and specifically showcases artists featured at a monthly experimental event called Hologram.

Few if any of the artists' names will be known far outside the City of Brotherly Love, but that hardly matters when the music is as fine as it is here, with every track offering surprises. The pretty opener “Stars Fell in Love” by Satellite Grooves establishes a high standard from the outset. Its spacious arrangement of laconic beats and singing melodies recalls—not disagreeably—E*vax's Parking Lot Music or The Remote Viewer's Here I Go Again On My Own. The billowing layers of bright noodling synths and galloping drum breaks of Phasmid's infectious “Push the Button,” on the other hand, evoke the kind of cool electro-synth pop that Suction Records specializes in. Warm electronica is prominently represented by tracks like Planet Nett's clicking microhouse “Sine Off,” William Fields' church-like “Release Form,” and Technicolor's “Neat Beat” whose oceanic ripples form a bed for its layers of melancholy melodies. Cerebral's “Heartglitch” is equally unique, as it moves from tinker toybox melodies to an interlude of melismatic undulations. Other tracks are more aggressive, such as Vostek's dense, at-times cacophonous “Where's the Future?” and Nintari Man's heavier mechano-flavoured “Sweat to God” whose multi-layered vibes give it a jazzy, acoustic feel. Spintronic's “Wrong (Not Wrong)” exudes a similarly jazzy drum & bass flavour feel, and is further enhanced by graceful melodies, horns, and Rhodes accents. The two closing tracks are the longest yet never become mere run-on grooves. The eleven-minute epic “White Sneakers” by Pacifica begins with towering waves which are gradually joined by numerous cut-up voice samples (one of which sounds like some schoolteacher's singsong voice). Transient's nine-minute “Tymewerm” finds its shuffle beat shadowed by burbling, skittering electronics. The song's incandescent melodies, interweaving patterns of simulated steel drums, and rollicking beats end the recording on a delectable high.

With so much music seemingly pouring forth from every global corner, it's common to not only encounter releases whose label and roster are both unfamiliar, but to discover that said releases are also of top-notch quality, and such is the case here. Vibon 2: Blip-Pop Click impresses as a superb collection of atmospheric chill-out music that manages to be fresh, experimental, and accessible throughout.

December 2003