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  Double Figure  
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The other day a friend and i were discussing some concerts i went. I described the Autechre show to him pretty much as i described it in my review.

"So you hated it," he said.

"No," i quickly responded. "I did enjoy it, but there just wasn't really much of a show. I mean, i like Autechre's music ....."

"Did you see Plaid on their tour then?"

"No -- they were touring with Squarepusher, right? Well, apparently he got sick before the tour reached Atlanta, and they had to cancel to go back to England to get better. I was looking forward to that one too. So have you heard of Plaid? I have not heard of them before."

"Really?" He seemed taken aback by this. "They do the same kind of music as Autechre and Boards of Canada."

Both good names to mention to me, and i immediately became curious. "Really?" i asked, prompting for more information.

"Yeah. And the two guys in Plaid used to be in Black Dog Productions."

I thought real hard for a minute. "I think i own a Black Dog album. Weren't they that kinda funky non-electronic act on Warp?"

"Well, they are on Warp. But non-electronic?"

"Black Dog is a real band right? I mean, it certainly sounds like real drumming. And real keyboards. And real guitar at times."

He shook his head. "No, i am pretty sure that they are an electronic group and that those are all samples."

It was my turn to be incredulous. "Are you sure? That drumming sounds really well done to be from a machine. It doesn't have that 'programmed-drum' feel to it."

"I think it is though."

"Then they must do it really really well. Heck, now i need to go back and listen to that Black Dog album."

"And you should get the new Plaid. It's pretty cool."

So i went back and drug out my old Black Dog Productions CD. And sure enough, it sounds like there is a real band with instruments and everything, but the liner notes imply that the band is a bunch of guys with computers. Wierd. I mean, usually electronic artists go out of their way to make sure that their stuff sounds fully electronic. It's like their music is a conscious rejection of what had been done before, and if something sounds "real" then it's really just a sampled loop.

Apparently this is not a universally held opinion.

I am just now getting into this type of music, but people refer to it as Intelligent Dance Music, or IDM. It's not that loud thump-thumpa rave shite that is so ubiquitous these days. It's more instrospective, less dance. It's thinking mans electronica -- something to sit around and listen to. There is some cool stuff out there in this genre, and Plaid are one of the cool things.

First off, Plaid are an electronic duo. On several songs it really sounds like one guy is playing drums and one is playing keyboards as if they were a regular old analog band. On other songs drums beats are metallic and distorted, and other sounds loop in and out.

It creates a really neat effect on the whole, and i am impressed with this album.

It starts off kind of weak, with Eyen sounding the most analog of the whole disc. It's also the weakest song on the album -- it's a lame synthpop ditty. However, it does have some nice guitar arpeggios in it. And they sound like they are really played.

The album builds and builds, and my track six, Ooh Be Do, things are really going in a good head-bopping electronica sort of way. This song features beats that skitter and pop over some deep throbbing simple bass riffs. The next tract, Light Rain is simple keyboard chimes over thumping hip-hop bass. It really reminds me of Boards Of Canada, with it's mellow keyboards and funky beats.

The album on the whole continues to mix keyboards, bass, and funky beats together to great effect. My two favorite tracks on the album are Sincitta and Ti Bom. both of these feature that hip-hop like drumming and ambient keyboards. Sincitta is noteworthy in that the keyboard parts keep building and building, until they are densely layered over the beats.

Ti Bom is almost a jazz song. It starts off with a keyboard riff that sounds as if it is ripped from some cheesey 80's pop song. Then a hazy sax wanders by, and is joined by broken echoey key riffs and synthesized bass that sounds almost as if it is a plucked upright played in some smoke filled jazz drive in Harlem. Very nicely done

Double Figure makes for some very good listening. If you are interested in hearing some good electronic that is not intended solely for the dance floor, this is a good place to start.

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