Music » Livewire

Plaid

With Nobukazu Takemura and Mira Calix. Saturday, March 23, at the Beachland Ballroom.

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Long before they grew to embody the warm and generally accessible side of WARP Records' U.K. techno revolution -- first as two-thirds of Black Dog Productions, then as Plaid -- Ed Handley and Andy Turner were teenage hip-hop heads, running with break-dance crews in the east English town of Ipswich, spending their allowances on imported rap 12-inches during weekend jaunts to London. They were excited about music with beats before 1988's Summer of Love transformed Detroit and Chicago into blissful sound factories in the minds of kids who ate pills in English fields and found cultural release in "Strings of Life."

But compositions that were simultaneously catchy and abstract, and rhythm beds built out of cubist fantasias, also entered Ed and Andy's hip-hop realities. And they've yet to leave them behind. Good thing, too -- because, as their fellow laptop producers have embraced sonic terrorism or fallen off the druggy ambient map, Plaid's been over on the side, making techno-pop music and embracing futurist methods without the cold overtones.

Now, Plaid's music is a reference point for a certain group of melodic IDM romantics. Which is as it should be. Rumor has it, Ed and Andy just stepped out of the studio with Tortoise's John McEntire, who in the past few years has helped cobble together some weird-sounding records that straddle the intersection of electronica's quirkiness, post-rock's highfalutin nature, and pop's geeky lushness. Seems like a perfect fit -- let's hope they bust some of those grooves out Saturday.

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