Fluke

TrackAlbum / Single
Atom BombRisotto
AbsurdRisotto
ReeferendumRisotto
Bullet (Empirion Remix)Circa YRCDX 121
MoshRisotto
Groovy Feeling - Make Mine A 99Six Wheels On My Wagon
Electric Guitar - HumbuckerSix Wheels On My Wagon
Slid - pdfmoneSix Wheels On My Wagon
Bubble (Speechbubble)Progressive History X
Switch/TwitchPuppy

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Fluke photo

Fluke are Mike Bryant, Jon Fugler, Mike Tournier

 

Contributor: Paul Flint

It’s 1995. Just a year before the Criminal Justice Bill was passed into law as a terrified government and confused media tried to grapple with the dangers of dance music. The M25 free raves had disappeared but mainstream clubs were now surfing the wave of the repetitive beat. Dance was well and truly mainstream. This was the year that saw The Chemical Brothers release Exit Planet Dust and Leftfield introduce the sublime Leftism. A year earlier Underworld had released their seminal first album Dubnobasswithmyheadman (1994) whilst The Prodigy produced their most grown up release to date, Music For The Jilted Generation.

The scene was ripe for the picking. A palpable sense of anticipation hung in the air as Fluke were about to release their third album. Their first, The Techno Rose Of Blighty (1991) and the more uplifting second, Six Wheels On My Wagon, (1993) had earned them a deserved reputation for excellence in well-constructed, thoughtful electronica. Dancefloor favourites found crossover support with a spectrum of DJs from House to Techno.

And then Oto broke; an album of downbeat and ambient music. Tracks that promise to build and drop but don’t. Wrong album. Wrong time.

Oh!

During my time listening back to Fluke’s output, to pull this list together, I revisited Oto. It’s a well-crafted album with some lovely tunes, all very listenable. But in 1995 it wasn’t the album we’d been looking for or needing. I played it to a friend on a visit to Leeds the same year who described it as “well chilling”. I think that was meant to be a good thing, so I left my copy with him.

I kept the faith in the band and continued to pick up the singles realised from that album. Most of these came with a variety of remixes, either by the band or their contemporaries which mutated the downbeat nature of the tracks into massive club stompers. Empirion’s remix of Bullet is a superior example, while the bands own reworking of Tosh (into Mosh) appears on the outstanding fourth album, Risotto (1997).

In fact, Risotto is everything Oto should have been and sits alongside Leftism and Dubnobasswithmyheadman as a triumphant trio of perfect dance albums.

So while Born Slippy cemented Underworld’s dance domination and The Chemical Brothers broke America, peppering the charts with their Big Beat sound, Fluke continued to ply their trade below the radar of most mainstream listeners.

However, you will have heard their work by stealth. Tracks regularly pop up in film; “Matrix Reloaded”, “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” and “Sin City” (amongst others), on adverts (Absurd was used for Ribena!) and, if you ever played “Wipeout 2097” back in the early 90s, you’d know Atom Bomb inside out. The full soundtrack of that game is an album worth unearthing.

Fluke’s musical journey dissipated in the mid-noughties. Before the final studio album was released, Mike Tournier left to form Syntax while, after a lukewarm reaction to Puppy (2003), Mike Bryant and Jon Fugler mutated into 2 Bit Pie. Both these acts are worth seeking out in their own right.

Fluke may be no more but they left behind a well-founded reputation for spectacular live shows utilising both session musicians and visual artists to full effect. However it’s the musical legacy that will last longer. Their back catalogue includes 5 studio albums, 2 live albums and a couple of compilations but there are endless singles, sometimes with 5 or 6 different releases, all featuring a variety of remixes. For the list I wanted to pick, in the most part, tracks that were all theirs. So 9 out of 10 tracks are all Fluke. Tracks when they are at their best, tracks that showcases their relentless mix of break beat, fizzing synths, squelchy 303s and deep bass all washed over with mutated and abstract lyrics.

Personally, I’m hoping there are plans to reissue and tour the 20th anniversary version of Risotto in 2017.

So that’s Fluke; one of the least well known and most underrated dance acts of their generation. Let’s put it down to timing.

 

Top 10

Bullet – Empirion Remix (Bullet CD2 single)
On the album Oto the original recording bumbles along nicely, teasing you, making you believe it’s going to kick and kick hard. It doesn’t. Empirion takes it there. After 30 seconds of screeching it ferociously drives Bullet to where it should have gone in the first place. A club classic.

Atom Bomb (Risotto)
Atom Bomb is a naughty school boy of a track. It’s big, it’s brash, not radio friendly but always a crowd pleaser. The video is a ‘sanitised’ version of this song.

Absurd (Risotto)
Absurd is Atom Bomb’s big brother. Clean cut and neater around the edges. Maybe that’s why Ribena picked it for its adverts. It’s full of energy, a relentless stomper.

Reeferendum (Risotto)
One of the more downbeat tracks on Risotto. Lovingly crafted with ascending and descending scales. Soundtrack to the end of night on the last (first?) bus home.

Groovy Feeling – Make Mine A 99 (Six Wheels On My Wagon)
The most ‘Underworldy’ of tunes, a relentless train sound(track). Hands in the air, feel good.

Slid – pdfmone (Six Wheels On My Wagon)
An utter classic. Favoured by house DJs Sasha and Digweed it featured on the 3 disc classic Renaissance album (1994) and was where I first heard it. Gorgeously constructed with a delicious vocal hook.

Electric Guitar – Humbucker (Six Wheels On My Wagon)
If they didn’t need to keep their wits about them, I’d recommend this for cyclists peddling over hills and down dales. This track will keep the legs moving, the muscles pumping.

Mosh (Risotto)
Like someone running their fingers down your spine, Mosh spins and mutates, always driving forward. Making Tosh what it should have been originally. And they know it.

Bubble (SpeechBubble) (Progressive History X)
Bubble has a plethora of remixes but SpeechBubble remains my favourite. Perfectly constructed with the vocals feeling like a warning but you’re not going to listen.

Switch/Twitch (Puppy)
A late, last flourish from Fluke on their final album. The only single released and a fitting full stop to their undernourished career.

 

 

Fluke fan site

Fluke discography

Fluke biography (iTunes)

Thanks to BBC6 Music and like-minded music lovers on Twitter, Paul Flint @CloningPandas (the tall one, standing at the back, nodding) rekindled his love for music and discovered the joy of gigging once again. He now writes about it over at Beaten Generation

TopperPost #523

2 Comments

  1. Rob Morgan
    May 22, 2016

    Ah… Fluke! I was smitten the moment I heard Peel play “Philly” when it was a single in late 1990. Those chord changes in the second half of the song were something else, so unexpected. When “The techno rose of Blightly” was issued in early 91 it was on one of those listening booth things in my local Virgin megastore and I spent hours listening to it there until I had enough money to buy it. Then there were Peel Sessions and the marvellous “Out (in essence)” live album too, each time moving the music forward. 1993 was Peak Fluke for me, each single being brilliant, having multiple mixes, digging the differences… and then “Six wheels on my wagon”, an album of two halves – the first six songs being a pulsing dance monster,  the second six being more subtle, thoughtful, melancholic in places… I would have to include “Life support” in my top ten, those Bill Nelson samples fit so well… I adore “Oto” too, it is more chilled but there’s hints of darkness too, songs from it used to get played on “This life” all the time… “O.K.” is the standout from the album, an unsettling listen for me. Of course coming back with the storming “Atom bomb” and the “Risotto” album just cemented my love for them, I saw them play around that time – an hour of throbbing pulsing propulsion with an eye searing white light show. Marvellous music, a marvellous top ten you chose, I’m going straight back to my old records and giving them a good blast.

    • Paul Flint
      May 27, 2016

      Thanks for the comments Rob. I also saw them live, once only, at the tribal gathering around the time of Risotto. It was amazing! You’re absolutely right about “six wheels” it feels like the bridge from “..Blighty” to “Risotto”. I do really struggle with Oto mainly because it disappointed me at the time but like I said it’s not bad, just not what I was looking for. They regularly get a spin round here and it’s not unusual to find me sofa raving! 🙂

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