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Plaid: Scintilli (Warp)

Plaid returns with their first proper album in nearly 10 years, and it’s practically perfect. To be sure, there is relatively little here that is surprising. The duo is still making the same bright, melodic instrumental electronic music that’s characterized most of their previous albums. Any updates to their sound are in the details and production twists and nuances, but the core ideas and sensibility remain relatively comparable to the rest of their œuvre. But something about this set of pieces feels especially inspired, magical even. There’s a meticulous attention to detail that brings the sequencing and rhythm section up to date, with tracks like “Talk To Us” and “Eye Robot” touching on some of the post-dubstep sounds that have made many a record less readily categorized lately. But the heart of Scintilli, as with most Plaid tracks, is their ability to move via melody. “Unbank” is a rousing dance track that combines their melodic chops with an up-tempo shufflebeat to the best possible end. It’s their sharpest melodic track since “New Family” on Double Figure. There are parallels with that album elsewhere, too; “African Woods” is a dorky companion to “Porn Coconut Co.” There are also some more ephemeral interludes and meditations sprinkled through the tracklist, like the sparkling “35 Summers,” the glide of “Craft Nine,” or the majestic optimism of the opening track “Missing.” It’s this combination of elements that makes the album positively magical to my ears, building on their repertoire and taking it to new heights. What it lacks in sounding wholly new it makes up for in sounding so utterly and completely Plaid in a way that only they can. Sure to be a classic with time.

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