Plaid Mbuki Mvuki reviewPlaid
Mbuki Mvuki
Black Dog Productions, 1991

As far as Mbuki Mvuki by Plaid goes, if there was a record to enter a World Cup of unique and funky as hell electronic records it would win all of the games without conceding a goal and it’s eight tracks crowned players of the tournament. This isn’t such a bold statement when the record’s title in the African language of Bantu means “Dance till your clothes fall off”.

The music on offer is hard to pigeonhole and though the tracks are about 120-125 bpm it is neither a house, ambient or breaks album. Unlike a lot of Plaid’s later releases the music is very accessible and the majority of the tracks are a fascinating brew of deep but playful techno, latin/jazz as well as pitch shifted hip-hop and r&b samples. Needless to say these handcrafted sounds mix together creating colours that you couldn’t imagine seeing with your eyes.

Plaid  Mbuki Mvuki album review

The first track, “Anything”, hints at the sounds on offer with it’s quirky but chilled techno flavour and a raw stop-start rhythm with the music being turned on and off like a DJ hitting the cross fader. “Slice of Cheese” follows with probably the most head spinning collection of sounds on the album. The track gives off a lush smoky flavour with live sounding horns and Rhodes stabs. The lo-fi cut and paste style of “Slice of Cheese”, like the rest of ‘Mbuki Mvuki’ sounds more like some extra terrestrial orchestra getting down than two Londoners making music in their bedroom on an Akai sampler, Yamaha synthesiser and an Atari. It’s a far cry from Plaid’s now all too weird cinematic noodley stuff.

Other examples of mad diversity on ‘Mbuki Mvuki’ include “Summit”, which is a combination of Lounge Jazz slouchiness and crazy organ stylings. “Link” on the other hand is more run of the mill techno if a little off the wall… On the subject of strange rhythms the penultimate track “Yak” starts with a fruity percussive mix of snares and hand clicks before blossoming into something that sounds almost childlike. Concluding the album is the most famous track on ‘Mbuki Mvuki’, “Scoobs in Columbia”. A mixture of bone crushing breaks, Latino chanting and Tango Guitar that sounds brilliant on the stereo but all the more devastating when played in a club.

‘Mbuki Mvuki’ was released in very limited quantites in 1991 by Black Dog which at the time was the Ed Handley and Andy Turner of Plaid’s main project alongside Ken Downey who would later separate from Plaid under much acrimony. Thankfully for the listener the whole of ‘Mbuki Mvuki’ is available on the Plaid compliation ‘Trainer’ released by Warp Records. Other highly recommended releases to check out include ‘Black Dog Production’s Bytes’ also on Warp and the recent Black Dog compilation out on Soma, ‘Book Of Dogma’.

Omar Francis

mbuki mvuki cover

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