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Plaid - P-Brane EP

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Artist: Plaid

Album: P-Brane EP

Label: Warp

Review date: Apr. 9, 2002

The duo of Ed Handley and Andy Turner were no strangers to the world of electronic music prior to their work in Plaid, as they had additionally worked under various incarnations of the name Black Dog Productions.

The duo broke out on their own in 1995, however, officially forming Plaid and releasing their music to the masses. Over the course of three full length albums (not including the odds and sods collection of earlier material Trainer) Plaid have honed their strong beats and simple, yet engrossing melodies to become one of the most enjoyable electronic acts today. Now the Handley and Turner return again with an EP of new material called P-Brane.

On the downside, most of the material here sounds as though it was culled directly from the same hard drives that produced last year's excellent Double Figure full length. Despite the absence of any great forward leaps, and the fact that it clocks in at a mere four tracks and some twenty minutes, there is still enough here to satisfy your die hard Plaid fans.

The disc begins with "Coat", a track that bumps along on a laidback beat while the duo weave snippets of sound samples and machine noise in the background around a delicate melody. "Diddymousedid" tosses the melody up front to begin with, quickly adding a booming beat to push the track ahead - the combination of the simplistic melody and subtle intricate beat work well in this aspect. "Stills" is perhaps the highlight of this short affair. Turner and Handley begin with a simple off-time beat and work in elements reminiscent of vintage electro before a spare melody slowly moves in and begins to work its way to the front of the mix. As the melody becomes more pronounced and yet somewhat spaced out, the duo switch things up and mix in a more frantic beat to match the urgency put forth by the growing background ambience - both the beat and the melody gradually work their way to a heady climax on this one. The EP closes with "Mfaus", a track the begins with a steady minute of growing noise before breaking into a chaotic beat that once again vaguely references electro. The track rides this beat, allowing simple keyboard lines to pulse throughout, rising to the eventual noisy climax.

Normally most artists would use an EP like this as a stop gap release or as a way of dropping some lesser quality tracks on the public that weren't good enough for an album. Thankfully, however, Plaid doesn't seem interested in just cleaning out old DATs. Even though the material here bears a distinct similarity to their previous full length, it's still worth checking out if you're a Plaid fan. It may be short, but there's no reason that it can't be sweet and to the point.

By Michael Crumsho

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