Look anywhere on the internet or just Google "Plaid and Warp Records", and you will see a common theme among the throng of voices both admiring and critical. Plaid is the seminal IDM group. And silly little me, who thought he had a good grasp on the Electronica scene, must eat humble pie at having completely missed the amazing work of Ed Handley and Andy Turner until being sent this album to review.
When I want to share my love of IDM with others, so that theyknow what it is and that it exists, I usually recommend Future Sound Of London, Aphex Twin and Autechre. I shall now add Plaid to that list.
What I am listening to is an album that successfully spans the gap between the experimental and avante-garde. It can sometimes feel utterly inaccessible (which pretty much describes Autechre if you try listening to it with a sober mind). I can best describe it as the "Easy Listening" variety of intelligent dance music, which one would not actually dance to. This would cover groups like Orbital and Robert Miles.
Speaking of Orbital, if you have heard their album "In-Sides" - a favourite of mine - then you already have a good guide to what this album sounds like. What you will find is that Plaid are much more true to their digital tradition. While Orbital will sometimes seem to try to sound rather orchestral or like a soundtrack, Plaid fully embraces artificial sounds.
?Crumax Rins? is one of the best tracks on the album, sneakily opening up with a driving bass horn reminiscent of Nu Skool Breaks or Cybotron-esque Electro. And slowly, ever so steadily, layers keep being added, a new snare drum-ish sound here, a buzzing strawberry there. It's an excellent buildup.
?Marry? is the next best track. It's a fast paced, unreasonably joyful-sounding track. Again with what seems to be a Plaid trademark, the song spends the first minute and a half sneaking up on you. You'll hear a triangle here and there, and what sounds like someone's telephone line crosswired with someone else's conversation, but it sounds like two robot teapots gossiping. Then almost on the dot at 1:30, the zippy percussion track kicks in and happy synth-piano starts plinging it's praises, all getting much more acid as the song moves on.
?Even Spring? is the opening track and it is a shame. It's the worst one on here. ?Get What You Have? is a very unusual track. It sounds like a very, very Euro-boy, casiotone interpretation of the instrumental part of late ?80s New Jack Swing. Forgive me but New Edition and Bel Biv Devoe just pop to mind. All it's missing is Paula Abdul singing with an animated cat. I thinks it's the very electronic-sounding steel drum that gives it a slight Caribbean feel.
Bad ?80s comparisons aside, these hardly come up as blips on the radar of good taste in electronica. I recommend you have a slice of this musical morsel while it's still warm and fresh, while I finish off my humble pie. 7/10 -- Munir Remahl (25 May, 2005)