The innovative duo Ed Handley and Andy Turner have been expanding the realm of electronic music as Plaid since they diverged from trio The Black Dog in the early 90s. In 2019, Plaid stand alongside the likes of Aphex Twin, Autechre and Nightmares on Wax as mainstays of the Warp label as it reaches its 30th anniversary, celebrating achievements in music like few others. Their adventurous and playful approach has taken them to working with Björk and drawing comparisons to fellow collaborators Mark Bell, Arca, Haxan Cloak and more recent Releases by Skee Mask and Daniel Avery. They’ve worked with the London Sinfonietta, the Southbank Gamelan Players, composed for Felix’s Machines robotic sculptures, and soundtracked events as diverse as reindeer migration in northern Europe to a level in popular platformer Little Big Planet 3. In a live capacity their show straddles both a contemporary and club capacity, able to pack venues from Sydney Opera House and Southbank to Bloc and Berghain.
Plaid sit right at the very heart of global electronica. In fact there's a very real sense in which Ed Handley and Andy Turner are the perfect encapsulation of what the electronic music of their generation was all about. As Plaid and as two-thirds of The Black Dog, they were central to the “Artificial Intelligence” movement of the early-mid 1990s: alongside their WARP stablemates Autechre, The Aphex Twin, B12 and allies like Richie Hawtin, Speedy J, Kenny Larkin, they brought new rhythmic variation, emotive melody and sensual textures to electronic music, creating a warm and welcoming counterpart to the white heat of the rave explosion.
But where the others would swiftly diverge and head off in many creative directions – into increasing abstraction or intricacy, or back towards pure techno – Plaid were the ones who stayed truest to the musical values they started out with. Their sound palette has got broader over the years, their techniques more sophisticated, they increasingly incorporate “real” instruments – especially with their ever-closer collaborations with multi-instrumentalist Benet Walsh – but over the years their focus has remained the same: intricate but always grooving rhythm, immersive listening experience and melodies and sound design that connect direct to the emotional centres.
Covering a wide range of emotions, influences and inspirations; ‘Polymer’ is an album for modern times. It’s creation was informed by a manifesto of Polyphony, Pollution and Politics; clashing themes of environment, synthetics, survival/mortality and humanity’s (dis)connection.
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