Live Music + Gig Reviews

Plaid @ Komedia, Brighton

12 January 2023

Expressive, dramatic and illustriously patterned 30 years into their career, Ed Handley and Andy Turner remain blessed with limitless drive and horizon defying scope



A procession of hallucinogenic fungal urban terrascapes, reminiscent of Chris Foss’s insectoid sci-fi art and the de rigueur proggy album covers by Roger Dean, luridly drenched in strobing liquified neon, seemed to spurt up and out of the screens dotted all around the Komedia tonight before glitching and dissolving almost as rapidly, as electronic pioneers Plaid dived deep to entrance the crowd with new tales of technographic ocean.

Shimmering, twitching and fluttering, evoking the wings of some holographic butterfly, the hyper saturated visual elements of their compelling ultrasonic live show strongly mirrored the milky biomechanic agitations the Warped ones were generating from beside and beneath the overwhelmed monitors.

Musically, with recent album Feorm Falorx, the group’s magpie sound is as brain meltingly amorphous as ever, as they send out scattering undecipherable morse code rhythms and accelerated particles of caustic techno, dancehall, dub disco and minimal composition punctuate the expertly controlled chaos. And yet, amazingly, for all that skittish fiddling, the chromatic refractions and those dazzling tonal shifts in sound, Plaid’s live shows are unexpectedly accessible to even the most audibly unadventurous or creatively faint of heart.

Amidst the shamanic ferocity, these perniciously cerebral and meticulously constructed digital emulations invite metaphysical self analysis on a near microscopic level. Introspection, restraint and fragility are the order of the day for the attentive crowd, lurching around in psychedelic reverence. Chattering fusillades of puzzling noise are not what you might normally associate with cognitive contemplation, and yet tonight offered an oasis for neuromantic growth.

Expressive, dramatic and illustriously patterned, Plaid are somehow 30 years into their career, and Ed Handley and Andy Turner remain blessed with limitless drive and horizon defying scope. Their roving musical eye goes beyond the conscious everyday, and propels listeners a thousand light years forward, away from our fraudulent present and into some densely textured but karmically placid future realm. This is music not as revolution, but as evolution. Darwin would be proud.

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