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Members include Ed Handley, synthesizer and mixes; Andy Turner, synthesizer and mixes. Addresses: Record company--Warp Records, P.O. Box 25378, London NW5 1 GL, website: http://www.warprecords.com.
Plaid members Ed Handley and Andy Turner are two English disc jockeys who have achieved success outside of the mainstream. Independent and unique, they have found a niche in the music underground, a feat that might seem akin to digging a hole and climbing into it. Yet they have remained keenly on balance and have not strayed from their slick and definitive groove. Droll by nature, the Plaid pair has taken a schizophrenic approach to discography credits, with pseudonyms abounding and remix confusion ad infinitum. Having worked as the Black Dog, Repeat, Balil, and Tura, among other titles, the two finally became known as Plaid in the 2000s. Although Handley and Turner shy away from the press, they enjoy describing their sound equipment and style. Unlike traditional musicians with strings, bows, and reeds, the Plaid sound reverberates from the software program MOTU, Macintosh computers and laptops, and Firewire technology.
Apart from his primary talent of mixing sounds, Handley is known to be a modest but capable keyboard player. After learning to play the recorder at an early age and listening to an eclectic mix of old standards including the Beatles and Ray Charles, his interest veered toward electronic music by the time he reached high school. Handley's Plaid mate, Andy Turner, played flugelhorn in his youth before turning to the edgy sounds of the techno mix. After graduation, each worked at day jobs before deciding to mix musical media for a living.
Starting as a duo in the late 1980s and calling themselves Plaid, Handley and Turner recorded a variety of experimental tracks. By 1988 they had joined forces with Ken Downie, with whom they recorded as a trio under the pseudonym Black Dog. The first published tracks from Black Dog were included on Artificial Intelligence, a compilation of work by various artists, released on Warp Records.
Handley and Turner next joined Downie on a series of albums, beginning with Virtual and Age of Slack, both in 1989. Black Dog appeared in 1990, followed by Stone Dog in 1991. Among the more prominent and well known of these early albums, Bytes appeared in 1992 along with Cost II and Vir21. The following year Black Dog released Temple of Transparent Balls, Vanttool, and Black Dog Productions. The trio followed up with Spanners in 1994. Not all to Plaid's liking, however, was Downie's more hip-hop/techno taste, which led in 1995 to a split between Downie's Black Dog Productions and the Handley and Turner twosome, called Plaid.
During their years with Black Dog, Handley and Turner continued to record as Plaid, and each honed his respective skill into a highly evolved form of electronica. The new genre, which fell under the label of intelligent techno, was intricate and sometimes melodic, representing techno music at its most rhythmic. Handley and Turner controlled an orchestra of computers with novelty and skill, creating a conglomeration of frequencies. At the lowest level, Plaid's digitally devised instrumentation is the output from laptop computers, synthesizers, a drum machine, tone generators, and a wavestation.
Even while joining forces with Downie as Black Dog, Handley and Turner retained their identity as a duo; still calling themselves Plaid, they recorded at times without Downie. Overall the Black Dog disc jockeys were known to record under a variety of creative names, with each avoiding his given name at all times. Discordian Popes and Balil Tura were favorite aliases of Handley, while Turner put out solo tracks under the various names of Atypic and Turic. Throughout this phase of production, Plaid was always the name on the credit whenever Handley and Turner performed exclusively as a duet. Similarly, Black Dog was an alias that made reference to Handley, Turner, and Downie in performance as a trio.
By 1991 Handley and Turner had released a seven-track debut album, credited as Plaid and called Mbuki, Mvuki. Few copies exist of the original vinyl recordings, which are regarded by technophiles as lost gems. The seven tracks from Mbuki, Mvuki were reprised in their entirety in 2000, and they were incorporated as the first disc of Trainer, a Plaid compilation on Warp Records.
Handley and Turner released Android, in 1995, their major label debut as Plaid, for Clear Records. After this release, and before another studio session ensued, however, Plaid began working for Warp Records. Not for Threes, the Plaid debut on Warp Records, was recorded as the first part of a so-called Plaid trifecta, a series that encompassed Plaid's 1999 release Restproof Clockwork and a 2001 release called Double Figure.
As the Plaid following grew, Handley and Turner recorded the Peel Session for Radio 1. Studded with assorted remixes from earlier recordings, plus one original track, the sessions aired on John Peel's British-based radio show in 1998. In 2000 a second disk was added to the set, featuring re-mixed Plaid work from the early 1990s. In all, the two disks spanned six years, from 1989-95, including Plaid mixes and samplers, from the Black Dog years through the Plaid breakaway era. The selections on Trainer included solo tracks by Handley which were credited to Discordian Popes and Balil, as well as selections from Turner under the aliases Atypic and Turic. A third disk, slated to feature Downie's work, failed to make the final cut.
Double Figure, the third album in the Plaid trifecta, was released in 2001, and included a generous 19-rack repertoire from funk and jazz to avant-garde styles.
In the 1990s Handley and Turner solidified their identity in Plaid and made international strides in intelligent techno by the end of the decade. Their popularity continued into the 2000s, as the duo continued an ongoing professional affiliation with Bjork and remixed for mainstream recording artists and groups such as Blondie. In October of 2000 Plaid participated in Warp Records' Incredible Lighthouse Party, performing at London's Trinity Buoy Wharf Docklands. In August of 2001 Plaid made appearances in the United States at the Coachella Festival in Los Angeles, and opened for Squarepusher at the Wexner Center in Columbus, Ohio. Plaid's ongoing popularity in the United States led to a Warp tour, including an April 2002 appearance at Club Warsaw in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, in a show with Mira Calix, Keith Tenniswood, and Nobukazu Takemura. Other appearances that year included a stint at Manchester's Barbican and a ten-country "Magic Bus" tour with Warp. Plaid issued Spokes in 2003 and appeared at San Francisco's Bimbo's lounge in April with Scott Herren (alias Prefuse 73) and Andrew Weatherall. In April of 2004 Plaid made an appearance at the Deadbeat Weekender at Great Yarmouth in Norfolk, England.
by G. Cooksey
First organized with Ken Downie as The Black Dog, c. 1988-95; also heard with Mark Broom as Repeat; Ed Handley's individual recordings and mixes credited under the pseudonyms of Discordian Popes and Balil; Andy Turner's individual recordings and mixes credited under the pseudonyms of Atypic and Turic; known exclusively as Plaid, 1995-; Android, released on Clear, 1995; signed with Warp Records; heard with John Peel on British radio station BBC Radio 1, 1998; tours and appearances included Wexner Center, Columbus, OH, and Coachella Festival, Los Angeles, CA, 2001; Warsaw Club at Greenpoint in Brooklyn, NY, Barbican Club in Manchester, England, and Magic Bus tour, 2002; and Bimbo's in San Francisco, CA, 2003, and Deadbeat Weekender, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England, 2004.
- Selected discography
- Mbuki, Mvuki BDP, 1991.
- (As Black Dog) Artificial Intelligence Warp, 1992.
- Android Clear, 1995.
- P-Brane (EP), Warp, 2002.
- Restproof Clockwork Warp, 1999.
- Trainer Warp, 2000.
- Double Figure Warp, 2001.
- Spokes Warp, 2003.
- Parts in the Post Warp, 2003.
- Daily Yomiuri (Tokyo, Japan), March 7, 2001, p. 1.
- Guardian (Manchester, England), May 25, 2001, p. 16.
- Seattle, November 12-18, 2003.
- Tech News, September 25, 2001.
- Transworld Skateboarding, April 2004, p. 242.
- "Pitchfork Music News," Pitchfork Media, http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/00-07/31.shtml (June 30, 2004).
- "Plaid," All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com/ (June 30, 2004).
- "Plaid," Billboard, http://www.billboard.com/bb/reviews/album_exclusives_article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1988794 (June 30, 2004).
- "Plaid," MacDirectory, http://www.macdirectory.com/music/Plaid/Index.html (June 30, 2004).
- "RadioValve Interview: Plaid," RadioValve, http://www.radiovalve.com/features/plaid.html (June 30, 2004).
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