Release Date: Jun 10, 2016
Record label: Warp
Genre(s): Electronic, Techno, Pop/Rock, Ambient Techno, IDM
Seasoned electro twosome Plaid have been around for over two decades altogether, and released a whole bunch of warm, wonky, and wholly listenable-- but never safe and predictable-- LPs via the pioneering Warp label (an imprint that first appeared around the same time as Plaid itself). New album, the curiously titled The Digging Remedy-- their seventh-- is another most rewarding and highly addictive listening pleasure, and features Benet Walsh on guitar and flute, allowing for a "more broader, gleaming sound". Taking away the several motion picture soundtracks or whatever from their canon The Digging Remedy is the seventh studio album proper from Andy Turner and Ed Handley's Plaid project.
In the milieu of ‘90s British IDM, Plaid was sort of a peculiar example. They do not have the LSD soaked psychedelic weirdness or nosiness of Aphex Twin, nor the jazzy drum and bass underpinnings of Squarepusher, nor the stark abstraction of Autechre. What they do have is a preternatural sense of melody and capacity for writing memorable songs. At times, Plaid’s music almost feels more akin to post-rock bands from the U.S.
The London electronic duo Plaid have sustained their passion for sound design and relevance in the genre by being equally attentive to the emotive aura and the architecture of their compositions. Andy Turner and Ed Handley's embracing attitude toward the neoteric digital tools of their craft has been fruitful in a time of consistent innovation and has made for nuanced production on their new release, The Digging Remedy. .
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.
As hard as it is to believe that Warp Records mainstays Plaid have been making experimental electronic music now for over twenty-five years, it’s even harder to believe that they’ve managed to do without markedly adjusting their basic formula for success. Plaid have staked out a well-defined musical territory for themselves by choosing on each new record to continually mine their existing plot of land rather than explore new terrain elsewhere. Their latest album, the appropriately named The Digging Remedy, reiterates that the Plaid game plan remains intact.
Ever since Andy Turner and Ed Handley’s split from Black Dog Productions in 1993, Plaid have always been one for the heads and the head. By that, we mean the real fans. While other Warp artists like Aphex Twin and Autechre might get more namedrops, but whether they were swerving from Latin rhythms to waltz time or releasing anime soundtracks and apps, the London duo were always ones for the techno purists at heart.
When you've been around since 1991, you basically have two options: get with the times, or latch more firmly onto the sound that was your making. Like the Prodigy or the Chemical Brothers, Plaid have opted for the latter option, but unlike those two, they can still pull it off. Thankfully, they got out of their fruitless movie soundtrack cul-de-sac a few years ago, returning to Warp with Scintilli in 2011.
It's startling to realize that Ed Handley and Andy Turner have been making electronic music consistently for 27 years—first as members of The Black Dog and then, since '91, as Plaid. And all of that experience adds up to a distinct fluidity in their music. Smooth transitions and bright melodies have always been hallmarks of Plaid's music, and The Digging Remedy is no exception—essentially, this is the same accomplished electronica we've come to expect from the two Englishmen.Handley and Turner have been mining the same futuristic aesthetic for more than 20 years—after that long it starts to feel quaint.