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 and right up to the utterly gorgeous new album, 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.