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Plaid: Trainer
Plaid: Trainer
turnover time:2024-06-22 05:10:11

Due to the indifference, ignorance, or outright antipathy of radio programmers, MTV executives, and consumers, the electronica revolution didn't seem to amount to much in America, coming across as all bluster and hype and no payoff. But a number of small victories have made the musical world of blips and bleeps more amenable to meat-and-potatoes types. Artists such as Moby, Underworld, and Fatboy Slim have proven surprisingly commercial, while once-underground labels such as Ninja Tune and Warp have lasted long enough to celebrate 10-year anniversaries. The latter label has become a source of inspiration for some of the most creative musicians working today, from Trent Reznor to Björk to Radiohead. Now that such esoteric Warp staples as Aphex Twin and Plaid are releasing career retrospectives, it's a fine time to catch up. Plaid is the duo of Ed Handley and Andy Turner, two of the three conspirators in the subversively tricky techno collective Black Dog; Turner and Handley split from the group in 1995, and they haven't really looked back since. A mixture of hip-hop, funk, techno, jazz, and general weirdness that always threatens to fly off the rails, Plaid helped Warp define its roster as so-called "intelligent techno." In other words, it's dance music that works just as well as listening music, focusing more on melodies, textures, and intricate structures than on BPMs. Trainer collects most of Plaid's early EPs, including 1991's Mbuki Mvuki, in its time way ahead of the curve in terms of playfulness and almost elastic ingenuity. The rest of the two-disc set compiles rare and unreleased material from Plaid, as well as side projects Atypic and Balil. The cumulative effect is fascinating: Even the oldest tracks here still sound futuristic, a perplexing but welcome paradox. Still wondering where Radiohead's Kid A is coming from, or where popular music might still go Trainer is part of the blueprint, a creative path few have managed to follow.

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