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Double Figure

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Album Review

Inspired to get back to basics after the release of the Trainer retrospective, Plaid returned in 2001 with an LP of tough machine music, closer to the melancholy beatbox style of their mid-'90s singles than the rangy, dynamic sound of 1999's Rest Proof Clockwork. Except for the cycling guitar-like lines on the opener "Eyen," there aren't many traditional-sounding instruments on Double Figure. Instead, the duo balances precise, simple-yet-subtle percussion programs and heavily evocative techno (both have always been Plaid's strong points), cycling through nearly 20 tracks with several shorter mood-setters — a series of tracks named "Tak" reminiscent of their work on Black Dog Productions touchstones like Bytes and Spanners. As always, Handley and Turner take great care with their productions, using a continually building style of electronic composition that gradually adds new effects, then even more gradually tweaks those effects for maximum subtlety. Working with the same template that inspired Plaid classics like "Choke and Fly" and "Angry Dolphin," the highlights "Squance" and "Assault on Precinct Zero" are raw rhythm tracks outfitted with moody melodics. The duo also works in more atmospheric territory with "Zamami" and "Light Rain" (the latter's warm, fuzzy tones fit the title perfectly). They may have been overly ambitious to stretch techno into new territory by working in traditional sounds, but Plaid recorded one of their most intricate, rewarding, best albums when they finally looked back to the tracks that first made them legends in the techno community.

Biography

Formed: 1991 in England

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Although Plaid preexisted the association, the duo's Ed Handley and Andy Turner spent most of their early recording years with Ken Downie as the dancefloor-confounding Black Dog Productions. Meshing well with Downie's vision of heavily hybridized post-techno and obscurantist thematics, the pair brought several nascent Plaid tracks to the Black Dog table on the group's debut, Bytes, a collection of tracks recorded by various iterations of the three members. The group recorded several albums and EPs...
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Double Figure, Plaid
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