- 25 years in, you know where you are with Plaid. They are not going to make a trap album, go deep house or release a ball-crushing set of industrial techno. Yet as much as Ed Handley and Andy Turner's music sticks to an IDM/electronica blueprint, it's always taking subtly different forms—the duo have, for instance, collaborated on audio-visual projects, performed with a gamelan orchestra and done film soundtracks.
If Reachy Prints, their tenth album, could be said to have a theme, it's the 1970s. Like their Warp contemporaries Plone and Boards Of Canada, that decade's musical and cultural legacy has always been an influence in Plaid's work, but rarely has it been so explicit. This is an album steeped in the popular culture that will have surrounded Turner and Handly as children: folk music, prog rock, haunting animated children's TV programmes and so on.
The resulting music is, Plaid being Plaid, richly melodic, exquisite in its detail. It's easy to get very excited about at first, but it's a thrill that fades. Suffused with a wide-eyed, utopian optimism, the tracks from "Hawkmoth" to "Wallet" are exceptionally pretty, but they lack depth or tonal variety—beautiful, but also bland. In contrast, the opener "OH," a dense flurry of plucked strings and chimes, is intense. Later, in the shimmering synth-pop of "Matin Luminaire" and the relatively peppy, darker techno of "Tether," Reachy Prints belatedly bursts into life, finally delivering the sonic variety and emotional grist the album needs—only to revert, on "Liverpool St," to something inane and blissed-out, if technically accomplished. Ultimately, Reachy Prints is a bravura performance that lacks bite.
06. Matin Lunaire
09. Liverpool St