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Ambient - Released September 26, 2011 | Warp Records

Distinctions Sélection Les Inrocks
Plaid's previous two works were soundtracks, one to accompany a feature film (2008's Heaven's Door) and the other a multimedia collaboration with Bob Jaroc (2006's Greedy Baby). Their return to music-making on their own terms after five years isn't the energized affair listeners might expect, though. Their trademarked variety of IDM, which you could call manic-beat/depressive-effects, is in effect and still not sounding much changed from its debut in the late '90s. Here though, they've managed an interesting blend of that style with the free-form structures of film soundtracking, the results of which are intriguing although rarely crucial. Scintilli begins with no beats at all, instead there's ululating wordless vocals over pointillistic keyboards, and next comes a classic Plaid production from the mold. It's only as the album unfolds that further tracks, like the highlight "Unbank," tend more toward a refreshing blend of IDM and film scores. ~ John Bush
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Ambient - Released October 27, 1997 | Warp Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Plaid's second full-length release, Not for Threes, is separated from its predecessor by one of the most celebrated side trips in electronic listening music's brief but broad history. As members of the Black Dog, Ed Handley and Andy Turner (together with Ken Downie) helped set the standard for experimental techno, bringing a daring range of influences together in a space consistently characterized by quality and innovation. As such, great things were expected of Threes, and with a couple exceptions, the pair delivers. Although treading far closer than any Black Dog material ever did to the sort of pop electronica of Plaid's interim work with Björk (who appears here on the gorgeous "Lilith"), Threes is ambitious on different terms, moving from the abused and distorted breaks of "Extork" and "Prague Radio" to a balanced radio-friendliness that never sacrifices ingenuity for ease. A handful of tracks feature vocals throughout, and while the results had the predictable effect of irritating BD purists, they actually work remarkably well (partly because the tracks contain absolutely no trace of compositional compromise). A few of the tracks ("Headspin," "Abla Eedio," the too-brief "Seph") sit easily beside the very best Black Dog. ~ Sean Cooper
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Electro - Released June 10, 2016 | Warp Records

On their 2016 full-length, The Digging Remedy, Plaid claim to have revisited their Detroit techno roots. While this might cause longtime fans to expect something similar to the duo's pre-Warp recordings, particularly the solo tracks recorded under pseudonyms including Atypic and Balil, the album isn't quite as danceable as the work they produced during the early '90s. In some ways, it's slightly darker and less playful than many Plaid albums, continuing with the cinematic flair of their previous decade's output. (The duo recorded a few soundtracks during that time, most of which were only available in Japan or digitally.) Opening track "Do Matter" trickles in with John Carpenter-esque synth melodies and creeping, suspenseful rhythms that skip a beat rather than sticking to a 4/4 pattern. At first, The Digging Remedy feels a little less polite than their prior studio album, 2014's Reachy Prints. "Dilatone"'s glitchy, shifting beats and sparse pads seem to alienate rather than welcome, but it's nevertheless one of the album's most engaging tracks. "CLOCK" is much friendlier, opening with spinning pointillist effects before launching into Plaid's familiar brand of light melodies and thumping beats. "Yu Mountain" is similarly curious and gleeful, inventively fitting loose notes into a pattern along with a sporadic bassline. Benet Walsh, who has contributed guitar to most of Plaid's proper albums, seems to play a bigger role this time around. The ambling, dub-tempo "The Bee" moves from insectoid sounds to almost Afro-pop guitar melodies to soaring waves. Other tracks are a bit gentler, with calming music box-like melodies. On "Lambswood," Walsh switches to an exotic-sounding flute, which complements eerie synth washes and the duo's typical style of circular, off-time rhythms. The album's last few tracks are some of its most delicate and relaxed, with guitars and chilled synth melodies that sound as beach-like as Plaid have ever gotten. With The Digging Remedy, Plaid remain eclectic as ever, keeping their oddness and exploratory nature intact. ~ Paul Simpson
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Electro - Released May 19, 2014 | Warp Records

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Plaid's first proper album in nearly a decade, Scintilli, was a slightly tentative return that ultimately felt like a warm-up for Reachy Prints. With its juxtapositions of the prickly and the funky, the electronic and the orchestral, the duo's sixth album evokes Not for Threes while giving the often-delicate sonics of their previous album more impact on tracks such as "Hawkmoth." Even more so than on Scintilli, Ed Handley and Andy Turner know when to be complex and when to be direct. Each approach delivers highlights: "Liverpool St." closes Reachy Prints with a psychedelic swirl of rubbery beats, flutes, and woodwinds that perhaps nods to the duo's years of composing soundtracks; "Slam" winds on itself hypnotically, its rhythms and melodies avoiding easy paths with a surprising grace. Meanwhile, the crisply twinkling "Matin Lunaire" brings things into sharp focus, and "Tether"'s sliding, clicking, and crashing sonics are so kinetic that it's easy to hear why it was also released as an interactive app. Throughout Reachy Prints, Handley and Turner refine the core of their sound, whether displaying their continuing mastery of shapeshifting tracks like "Nafovanny," which subtly morphs from spare and squiggly into something more effervescent over the course of five minutes, or proving that there's still a place for songs like the expansive, skittering "Wallet," which manages to exemplify a certain strain of the music formerly known as IDM, and sound fresh at the same time. It's to their credit that Plaid aren't preoccupied with being cutting-edge on Reachy Prints. Instead, they bring the playful, brainy spirit of their best work over the years into the 21st century with lively results. ~ Heather Phares

Electro - Released June 28, 2016 | Warp Records

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Ambient - Released June 21, 1999 | Warp Records

On the surface, Plaid's second full-length charts similar territory as their debut, with the same intriguing mix of old-school flow and electronic programming clout, plus an odd tendency to play with certain synth presets -- steel drums, for instance -- that would make most electronica technicians cringe. True, there's a bit more hip-hop flavor on this one, like the faux turntablism on the excellent tracks "Shackbu" and "Little People." And the novelty angle Plaid have occasionally nodded to in the past is out on two tracks especially: the vocoderized bossa-nova number "New Bass Hippo" and "Dang Spot," the kind of popcorn electronica that harks back to Perrey & Kingsley. When it comes down to it, the technical differences between Rest Proof Clockwork and Plaid's debut Not for Threes are minimal. Still, there's a certain soul to this album that displays the maturing ex-breakdancers progressing even after more than ten years of recording. In fact, two of the most beautiful tracks of Plaid's long career are right here. The first is "Buddy," a yearning downtempo track with echoing effects; the second is "Dead Sea," a beatless piece of glorious synth-strings which evoke past civilization just as achingly as "The Crete That Crete Made" (from Temple of Transparent Balls, the 1993 album by Handley and Turner's former concern, the Black Dog). So, in sum, Rest Proof Clockwork is yet another production masterpiece to file on the shelf with the rest of Plaid's work. The element that puts them far, far ahead of every other beatminer out there is a growing sense of spirit that lets the machines do the singing. ~ John Bush
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Ambient - Released April 5, 2009 | Warp Records

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Ambient - Released March 29, 1999 | Warp Records

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Ambient - Released October 20, 2003 | Warp Records

When Ed Handley and Andy Turner left Black Dog Productions in 1995 to record strictly as Plaid, they unfortunately jettisoned the sound of their own classic material. The style they embraced was organic but chilly, propulsive but also airy, and more heavily melodic than any other techno act of their time. Four albums later, in 2003, Plaid released Spokes amid the self-started hoopla of a return to the classic sound of pre-BDP-breakup classics like Mbuki Mvuki and "Scoobs in Columbia." (Ironic, though, that the duo's previous record, Double Figure, glossed on the old formula as well.) Fans anxious to hear tracks minus the steel drums and overworked melodies won't be completely satisfied with Spokes; nearly all of this territory has already been plotted with more detail and flair on Handley and Turner's first three records. That said, it's a simple matter of deciding which of these retreads have traction anyway and which are so thread-bare they're in danger of dissolving completely. On the plus side, listeners will be able to rely on "Upona" and "Zeal," particularly excellent examples of the ghostly electro that first launched the pair back in 1995. On the other extreme, though, "Cedar City" and "Get What You Gave" are rewrites so blatant they sound as though they've already appeared on at least two Plaid LPs previously. Worst of all, Spokes has many more examples of the latter than the former. ~ John Bush