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AAA Music | 19 January 2022

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Plaid + Daedelus @ Village Underground

| On 27, May 2014

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Friday 23rd May, London

Tonight’s Soundcrash curated lineup at Village Underground teams up two of electronic music’s most progressive and enduring artists; two artists who produce intelligent electronic music, but from different sides of the IDM spectrum. In short, the double bill is a masterstroke. Oldschool Warp duo Plaid, who are here for their album launch, provide a relatively downtempo, introspective concert of sorts, then Brainfeeder/Ninja Tune affiliate Daedelus brings the hectic party music – it’s a Friday night of a bank holiday weekend, after all.

First up: the calm before the storm. Plaid (pronounced ‘plad’, fyi) have been producing leftfield electronica via Warp since its early, pioneering years (they signed to Warp in 1991, but actually released their first EP in 1989!). The UK dance music legends are in the same bracket as Aphex Twin, Squarepusher and Amon Tobin, yet the status of those three household names has always just about eluded Plaid, aka Andy Turner and Ed Handley. Back with their tenth album – the superb Reachy Prints – the timing feels right for this duo to jump up a few deserved places in the league table. Firstly, because their brand of jittery, melodic techno and bass music has somewhat blown up in recent years thanks to contemporaries such as Jon Hopkins and Moderat, and secondly because Reachy Prints is perhaps their most cohesive, rewarding body of work yet. It may lack the immediacy of some of the more classic Plaid moments, but make no mistake; this is an intentionally understated statement of intent (ed: does that even make sense?).

Plaid

Tonight the duo appear in front of a AV screen (fairly average visuals given the high standard set over the past two or three years) and are flanked, from time to time, by some live guest musicians: Bruno Zamborlin playing Mogees (which uses vibrations from various objects – I think I spotted a glass vase(!) – to add live music, of sorts) and Benet Walsh on guitar. It’s this live instrumentation which sets Plaid apart from similar artists – the live guitar in particular adding an urgency not apparent on their records; a dynamic that from time to time recalls the aggression of Trentemoller’s live show (although not  as menacing). The set is heavily geared towards the new material (unsurprising given that this is an album launch), and it sounds truly immense live, even if a few of the layered details are lost to the high, Village Underground ceiling. The bass, however, packs a strong punch (the Village Underground PA is well known for bass), especially during the semi-industrial moments, which provide the standout musical moments.

Plaid’s intelligence lies in their ability to build gentle euphoria through layers of intricate, often obscured melody, and the synths, in particular, soar tonight. This is not club music. This music requires focus; an attention to detail. Looking around the venue tonight, one doesn’t see raving kids, but swaying, entranced music fans, eyes closed, relishing in the atmosphere. Although when the odd, bass-heavy breakbeat does break out, naturally the heads nod in unison.

Daedelus

Next up is an entirely different beast. L.A.’s Daedelus is no stranger to London – nor the Village Undergroud (I’ve reviewed him numerous times over the past two years). Unlike Plaid (and unlike most of his own prolific productions), Daedelus’ live sets are erratic and abrasive. His intelligence lies in the live sequencing of beats and sounds to create a musical madness that manages to both confound and captivate.

Tonight Daedelus – aka Alfred Darlington – is sadly without his moving wall of mirrors, Archimedes, but, as always, he has his trusty Monome box of flashing lights – a piece of equipment he uses to create a quick-fire patchwork of tracks, beats and samples. And, of course, he’d dressed like a Victorian dandy (oh, by the way, Darlington is always attired in lavish Victorian clothing). After the brooding electronica of Plaid, Daedelus delivers a set of straight-up party music; the audience goes from focused contemplation to mindless raving in what seems like a split second. The choppy nature of Daedelus’ sets can be too chaotic for some, but this is carefully crafted chaos – painfully precise. As always, the bulk of the set is made up of short, sharp bursts of instrumental hip hop, mixed with everything from 90s house, thumping techno, world and cheesy rap, all glued together with serious blasts of near-dubstep bass.

The best part of a Daedelus live show, however, is the man himself. So many DJ/producers are fairly bland to watch – static, faces transfixed on their laptop screens. Daedelus, like Low End Theory friend The Gaslamp Killer, provides spectacle: dancing, grinning, jumping, headbanging, throwing his hands in the air…All this fuels the crowd to dance harder and shout louder. This is how a rave should be.

When I first saw this co-headlining event announced I was a little unsure of how two acts so different from one another could share one night and space without one feeling jarringly out-of-place. Credit to Soundcrash, then, for scheduling it such a way that it felt like a concert followed by a club night – and what other venue could house such an event other than the warehouse archway of Village Underground. A brilliant night.

Clive Paris Rozario

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