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 alongside their WARP stablemates Autechre and Aphex Twin, 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.
Which leads us to The Digging Remedy. All the elements that first inspired Ed and Andy are there – ecstatic Detroit chords in “CLOCK”, a brilliantly swinging hip hop beat in “The Bee”, Kraftwerkian electro jitters in “Saladore” – but everything is bigger and broader in scope, more luxuriant, more gleaming with detail, and there are fascinating new additions. The synth chords of “Melifer” and “Wen” engage in counterpoint with acoustic guitar ripples that sound almost New Age. A spiralling, unfolding flute melody in “Lambswood” creates a downright mystical air, like you’re hearing a shamanic ritual from a lost continent. But though the production values are the very highest, none of this is slickness or high drama simply for its own sake, and never do Plaid engage in the crowd-pleasing vainglorious stadium bombast that is all too common in electronic music now. Of course they don’t – as they say: “in our opinion it should be the artists leading the audiences, not the other way round”. That’s something that could stand as Plaid’s motto, and the thing that’s kept them so very fresh over all these years, even as their aims and values remain just what they were at the start.
Words by Joe Muggs