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
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
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
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
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