Plaid – Scintilli (2011)

Ever since their first album Mbuki Mvuki (1991), Plaid has carved their own niche in the realms of otherworldly electronica and experimental soundscapian compositions. Avid followers of the enigmatic duo will be aware of their fascination for mystifying experiments when it comes to musical aesthetics: a pathos that seems to make up most of the outfit’s output. End September sees their home label Warp releasing Scintilli (Latin for I Am Many Sparks – click here to read more about the album’s concept), a highly intriguing and very sophisticated collection of multi-dimensional electronica…

As on virtually every album of the UK duo, the highly dynamic and colorful Scintilli consists of tracks that often are a mix of hypnotic, shoegaze soundscapes and bits of indie, folk, and ambient. ‘Missing’ opens the album with a lovely mix of folk guitars combined to soft, almost transparent pads, while follow up track ‘Eye Robot’ is a much darker, more electronic piece of drone-styled ambient. Beats are provided on uptempo compositions such as the vivid yet estranging ‘Unbank’, a deceivingly ‘happy’ tune underlined by dark twists of melancholy upon a closer listen, and the updated Atari-techno that is ‘African Woods’, a killer track whose complexity is hidden under layers of what seem to be simple sounding rhythms and melodies. Still, Plaid’s strength lies in crafting sound waves and elements that are slowly transformed in highly emotive and often desolate pieces of electronica. Standout tracks are ‘Founded’, a fairytale-like piece of folktronica with beautiful vocals and a combination of vocals and synths, the aforementioned ‘Missing’ and ‘Unbank’, and closing track ‘At Last’, which is an exciting mix of deformed drums and lush vocals and decorated with an extremely mellow dream-pop vibe.
Our verdict:
On Scintilli, Plaid once again confirms their status as one of the most brilliant electronica composers of our time. On nearly all 13 tracks, the cinematic Scintilli manages to display ongoing moments of soundscape wizardry, while effectively avoiding the pitfalls of endless and pointless experiments. In other words, another landmark in Plaid’s discography and a must-have for electronica aficionado’s the world over. BnB


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