Like Matador, Nothing records started catching wind of some of the amazing electronic music being released on the other side of the Atlantic through Warp records and pulled several artists (Autechre, Squarepusher, Plaid) off the roster for distribution in the United States. With their same sort of deal through Blue Planet records (Plug, The Bowling Green), the quality electronic music they've co-released has made most of the other music on the label (by big names like Marylin Manson and Nine Inch Nails) sound stale. Sure, those big names and overblown productions sell more copies, but you only need to pick up any of the other releases to hear where the real innovation is coming from.
Out of the four groups mentioned above, Plaid is probably the most quirky and easy to listen to. While Autechre has fractured their sound even more and more (starting with their Self-Titled full-length and continuing with 1999's EP7), and The Bowling Green and Plug throw wicked breakbeats into their mix once in awhile, Plaid tends to rely on lighter sounds for the most part to make their point. Sure, there are some pseudo hip-hop phat beats on the record, but there are also little night-time melodies that will have you off in la-la land in no time at all. Comprised of former members of another classic Warp-label electronic outfit (Black Dog), one can hear little bits of the former groups sound seeping through into the new style.
The album opener, "Shackbu," starts off with some goofy keyboard playing and some bits of scratching before a funky little sliding beat comes into play and drags the rest of the track right along with it. Specifically, the second track "Ralome" is the one that I was talking about above when I mentioned sooting sounds. The track moves along with some island-music sounding guitar work that drifts softly through a sleepy-time beat. It sounds like something that could have come off an old William Orbit Strange Cargo release with its nice mixture of organic and electronic sounds, and I'm falling asleep just hearing it now...
The album bursts right back into life again on the third track entitled "Little People." Although it's not a huge beat, the track kicks right off with some of those old-school hip-hoppish sounding beats before breaking off and introducing some cool electro sounds that hum over the whole mess. After a short filler track, things go into slow and low form with "3recurring." With a deep bass hum oozing behind everything, the track has a very slight beat and other subtle touches that again make you feel like you're drifting just a bit.
The album goes like that for nearly it's entire 16 track, 65 minute span. One minute you'll be listening to a pretty track like "Geltab," while the next you'll be holding onto your spare change as you bounce around to a silly song like "Dang Spot" or brooding as you hear the electronic injected spaghetti-western track "Pino Pomo." Even with all this quirky-ness, though, the album still manages to have a nice, cohesive feel. In fact, "quirky" is probably the best word to describe Plaid if I had to do it in one. It's fun electronic music and yet another solid release from Warp.