- by Joseph Majsterski Rating:10 Release Date:2016-06-12 Label:
Andy Turner and Ed Handley, working under the name Plaid, have been around the block once or twice, and they've established themselves with a very unique, recognizable sound wholly their own. Their newest set, The Digging Remedy, finds them staying comfortably nestled in the well worn path they've carved out for themselves over the years.
The first track, 'Do Matter', was surprising, in that it felt like a more generic, undefined sound than I'd expect from the duo. It wasn't bad, just a very basic ambient electronic track, a weightless little thing that could have been created by any of dozens of other artists. But things quickly fell back into place with the next song, 'Dilatone', and it was like putting on an old, comfortable shoe. That distinct, bleepy clickety percussion was front and center, and it was like I'd taken a trip back to the early 2000s and was listening to Not For Threes and Double Figure again.
'CLOCK' is where the band settle down into their strengths: surging and retreating beats and synths, pulsing along like sinewaves. 'The Bee' is a mix of slightly hip-hopped beats, mild guitars, and rich and hearty basslines. Oddly, it sounds like an instrumental track by a different band, rather than a track by a band that never uses vocals. It's followed up by the appropriately sweet 'Melifer', with its honeyed clouds of chiming synths and puffy, muted bass. And of course a dash of clicking percussion.
'Yu Mountain' is another big, pounding song, with nice metallic percussion and a weirdly warbling bassline. On the other end of the spectrum is 'Reeling Spiders', which features this wonderful, inwardly crumbling synth filigree for its first half. And closer 'Wen' has delightful layers of melody bubbling past each other before it tinkles away to nothing.
But there are a handful of relatively bland tracks as well, such as 'Lambswood' and 'Saladore', that go back to that more generic electro sound, something that any number of bands could have produced back in the 90s. And since these weaker tracks seem to be backloaded, the album leaves a poorer impression than it should.
To be fair, this is generally quite good stuff, but it's also nothing you haven't heard before if you've been following the band for any length of time. If they're new to you, this is a fine place to start, as it does include plenty of the distinctiveness that makes Plaid, Plaid. But no groundbreaking, mindblowing tunes have come out of this effort. This is clearly the work of a couple veteran musicians who are comfortable with themselves and their sound, and don't feel the need to pull any stunts to impress anyone. If you go into it knowing all that, this is worth a listen.