Mainstays of Warp Records, Plaid are set to release their 10th studio album, Polymer, on the 7 June. Two weeks later, when you’ve had a chance to let this surprisingly experimental album sink in, they’ll give a live performance at The Deaf Institute on the 22 June. Here’s what to expect.
Ed Handley and Andy Turner have been furrowing their own path as Plaid since they diverged from trio The Black Dog in the early 90’s. Standing alongside label mates Aphex Twin, Autechre and Nightmares on Wax, they’re regarded as legends in the IDM world. Warm and playful, their melody-focussed electronic music is instantly-recognisable and highly listenable, going some way to explain why they’re one of Warp Records’ most enduring acts.
The most wonderfully detailed melody-based production we’ve ever heard from the duo.
Finding their winning sound early on in their career, Plaid have championed the approach of exploring every inch of their own territory before digging elsewhere; their nine studio albums have exhibited a finer and finer refinement of ‘the Plaid sound’. Never was this sound so polished than in 2016’s The Digging Remedy. Filled with exquisite melodies and hyper-detailed production, this was lauded as their strongest and most satisfying record to date, with brooding opener ‘Do Matter’ shining particularly brightly.
Judging by the first singles from the upcoming Polymer, though, this next one might just top it. For the first time, we find Plaid in … shock horror… an experimental mood. ‘Maru’, for example, is surprisingly heavy. Halfway towards industrial techno, it juxtaposes dry and aggressive drums with elegant, glacial pads to gorgeous effect. It was released with B-side ‘Recall’, which came as an even greater shock to fans used to the formula. Sparse, glitchy and forceful as hell, it sounds more Autechre than Plaid!
The polyrhythmic, slightly twisted ‘Los’ feels more like the Plaid we know and love, featuring some of the most wonderfully detailed melody-based production we’ve ever heard from the duo. The wistful ‘Dancers’, is also great. In huge contrast to the mechanical thwack of ‘Recall’, this one’s a little slice of heaven, with magical, oh-so-shiny synths and soft, rolling percussion leading us ever closer to the light.
Polymer is shaping up to be Plaid’s strongest work yet. What better time to catch them play live.