Well, the good news is, Plaid are back with a new album proper, Scintilli, their first since 2003's Spokes, although there were also three excellent soundtrack albums in the interim.
Perhaps the best news however is that the good gents of Plaid were happy to grant us exclusive access to their purpose-built North London garden studio, wherein untold music-making wonders reside.
The duo that make up Plaid, Ed Handley and Andy Turner, have an illustrious pedigree in the
Electronic music world. Both formerly of seminal Dance unit, The Black Dog, they then went on to work and tour extensively with Björk while still somehow finding the time to create an impressive body of work under the Plaid banner, which they've used since 1991 debut album, Mbuki Mvuki.
Scintilli sees Handley and Turner further explore their ongoing interest in the new forms of synthesis made possible by ever-faster computer processors and sees them shift further into the software realm. All this and they're on that sacred home of Electronic music, Warp Records. So let's take a look around...
As one of many successful duos in the electronic music world, we wondered if two heads were always better than one in the studio?
"It definitely helps keep your ego in check", says Andy, "I guess if you’re on your own it might be easier to go to your head. We can be critical without being offensive. So, it is definitely valuable having someone who you can bounce ideas back and forth with.”
"Logic is still our main DAW. I think it’s just what we’ve got used to over the years, really.
"Some of the internal Logic plug-ins are pretty useful too. You sort of imagine that you like the sound of it but I don’t know if there’s anything in that as I’m sure they all use pretty similar algorithms. We do like the sound of Logic though and we’re mainly running it for the final mixes.
"We’ve got Ableton which we use more for live and for coming up with sketches and we also use Max/MSP a little bit for making plug-ins, although we used to do that a bit more than we do now. There’s also Max for Live, which we like to use a little in the live set. That’s mainly it, really.”
Ultimate Percussion K2-X
“We’ve used this a bit recently to back up the digital percussion on a few tracks. It produces a harsh cutting top end and heavy bass that fills out the sound nicely.”
“We’ve got a Nord Modular that’s lovely and it sometimes gets an outing despite the sound quality not being all that super on it. The capabilities on it are brilliant though, it’s like a massive modular with all it can do.
“The grey Calrec channel strip unit has a great preamp, compression and EQ. Getting a full-sounding sample initially saves a lot of tweaking later on.”
"We’ve got the MKS-80 Super Jupiter with the MPG-80 controller, which is lovely and we’ve used it a lot over the years although it doesn’t get used so much now unless we specifically want an analoguey sound."
"The iPad is pretty incredible, really. In the last year it’s just started to become really interesting.
"There are some great synths for it now and we recently got the Tenori-On app for £12, which is crazy! Such good value for money and I’ve heard that the designer says the iPad version is more accurate to his original concept than the hardware one.”
“These are not particularly robust but they’re very light, which is quite important these days when you’re travelling around due to the ridiculous luggage restrictions. They’re pretty quick and easy to program up too."