Plaid is something of an unclassifiable institution, both in the history of modern electronic music […]
Plaid is something of an unclassifiable institution, both in the history of modern electronic music and the discography of Warp. While the production duo of Ed Handley and Andy Turner undoubtedly have a compositional aesthetic all their own, you rarely hear them returning to a particular genre or sound from album to album. The music could be generally called IDM, but that term seems to mean even less now than the day it was coined. Similarly, Plaid’s sixth proper studio album, Scintilli, is hard to place stylistically, but nonetheless offers plenty of enjoyable head-scratching moments, along with a straight-up tune or two.
The key to identifying the latest incarnation of Plaid’s music lies within its intricate, sometimes convoluted melodies and its pristine production style, which often utilizes some kind of plinking synthetic sound, a tightly crafted beat, and a treated sample or two. “Thank,” “African Woods,” and “Talk to Us” make the best use of that formula—infusing a bit of dancefloor energy into Handley’s and Turner’s cerebral recipes—while the beatless “Craft Nine” and “35 Summers” sound like someone left a sequencer running on random.
Plaid flirts with a few uncharacteristic genres, as well. “Sömnl” is an awkward stab at dubstep, “Upgrade” sounds like Autechre toying with classic electro, and “Eye Robot” might as well be ripped from a Radian album. But despite the disparate sounds and styles offered on Scintilli, Plaid manages to place an indelible fingerprint into each production—making for a record that comes off more like a couple of electronic music veterans revisiting their own musical histories rather than forging new ones.