Black Dog
(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
Bytes, 7/10
Temple Of Transparent Balls, 6/10
Spanners, 6/10
Plaid: Mbuki Mvuki , 7/10
Plaid: Not For Threes , 6/10
Plaid: Rest Proof Clockwork , 5/10
Music For Adverts , 4/10
Plaid: Double Figure , 5/10
Plaid: Spokes (2003), 5/10
Plaid: Greedy Baby (2006) , 4/10
Black Dog: Radio Scarecrow (2008), 4/10
Plaid: Scintilli (2011), 5/10
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Black Dog Productions, un trio britannico composto di Ken Downie, Ed Handley e Andy Turner, rappresenta la frangia piu` sperimentale del techno, quella che si dilata a macchia d'olio verso altri generi.

Riprendendo elementi del techno americano e dell'elettronica tedesca, i singoli Virtual e Age of Slack del 1989, l'album The Black Dog (BDP, 1990), con Techno Playtime , e Temple Of Transparent Balls (GPR, 1993 - Soma, 2007), con Cost, si erano limitati a coniare uno stile di consumo. I primi singoli verranno antologizzati su Book of Dogma (2007). Il loro ruolo storico fu quello di portare nel techno un senso quasi classico della melodia. Parallel (GPR) e` l'antologia dei primi singoli del 1989-1993. Bytes (Warp, 1993) e` un'antologia di brani pubblicati con nomi diversi.

Ed Handley's Balil project distilled sophisticated rhythms into Brazilian-tinged pieces such as Nort Route (1992), The Whirling of Spirits (1992), Choke and Fly (1992).

Piu` avventuroso (se non riuscito) il doppio Spanners (Warp, 1994), summa delle loro ambizioni, che cala i ritmi ballabili in contesti jazz ed etnici piu` elaborati, fra rumba (Barbola Work), samba (Psil-Cosyin), batucada (End Of Time) e funk (Tahr), progredendo via via verso musica cosmica (Upotian Dream), minimalista (Nommo) e new age (Chesh) e l'abolizione della drum-machine. E` una musica da ballo che, lungi dal celebrare sfrenato edonismo, si adagia in un tetro senso di stanchezza, come promulgato fin dal manifesto di Aaxmus, dalla sua armonia scheletrica, dal suo andamento ciclico, dai suoi timbri ovattati. Il disco, benche' straripante di passaggi gratuiti e di esperimenti puerili, rappresenta, nel bene e nel male, lo stato dell'arte del ballabile ambientale degli anni '90.
Il problema dei Black Dog e` che e` difficile trattenere lo sbadiglio quando la loro musica si protrae, senza ne' grandi ne' piccole intuizioni, per un disco intero.

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Ed Handley and Andy Turner, Black Dog's founder, are also active as Plaid. Plaid's Mbuki Mvuki (BDP, 1991) was one of the most influential albums on the development of rave music and jungle. While mostly indebted to Detroit's relentless polyrhythms (Link, Bouncing Cheeks, Perplex) the salsa-tinged Scoobs in Columbia and Anything (that sounds like a cubistic version of Giorgio Moroder) and the rhythmic experiments (the ping-pong game of Slice of Cheese with samples of funk orchestra, the tap dance of Yak, and especially the blues and jazz nuances of Summit) opened new doors. The album was later included in the anthology Trainer (Warp, 2000). Years later a single completed the project with the melancholy shuffle of Android (1995) and the drill and bass cum dissonant piano of Angry Dolphin (1995), two longer pieces that sounded like easy-listening compared with Mbuki Mvuki.

After a stint with Bjork, the duo resurrected the Plaid moniker for the single Undoneson (1997) and the album Not For Threes (Warp, 1997). Aided by a number of guests vocalists, they concocted seductive genre excursions that owed more to Bjork's quirky pop than to Detroit's techno (Lilith, Extork, Myopia, Rakimou).

Rest Proof Clockwork (Warp, 1999) is not only more eclectic, but also more accomplished in technical terms, almost baroque in the way it is designed and played.

Trainer (Warp, 2000) is a double-CD anthology of Plaid's material, including the entire Mbuki Mvuki and debuting the tribal Uneasy Listening (with staccato orchestral samples a` la Are You Ready For This by 2 Unlimited), the frantic and atmospheric Prig, and especially the peppery and jovial Fly Wings (with melodic jazzy piano).

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After the split, Black Dog became Ken Downie's private show, but he seemed to disappear after a collection of short pieces, Music For Adverts (Warp, 1996).

Ed Handley and Andy Turner carefully orchestrated and edited Plaid's Double Figure (Warp, 2001), a collection of techno contaminated with hip-hop, ambient, drum'n'bass, disco, industrial and even post-rock and highlighted by virtuoso counterpoint. Squance (a fusion of jazz-rock and synth-pop) and Eyen are the standout tracks in their old style, but the future of Plaid could be in the (often unsuccessful, sometimes minuscule) experiments that dot the album (Porn Coconut Co, Light Rain, New Family).

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Alessandro Isopo)

Ed Handley e Andy Turner hanno accuratamente orchestrato e prodotto Double Figure (Warp, 2001) di Plaid, una raccolta di brani techno contaminati da sonorità hip-hop, ambient, drum'n'bass, disco, industrial e perfino post-rock e impreziositi da contrappunti virtuosi. Squance (fusion di jazz-rock e synth-pop) e Eyen sono le tracce di spicco composte nel loro stile tradizionale, ma il futuro dei Plaid potrebbe essere negli esperimenti (spesso non riusciti, talvolta impercettibili) che punteggiano l'album (Porn Coconut Co,Light Rain, New Family).

An excellent corollary to Double Figure is the EP P-Brane (Warp, 2002), equally dramatic and poetic.

Plaid's Parts In The Post (Peacefrog, 2003) collects remixes.

Plaid's dull routine on Spokes (Warp, 2003) continues a decade of uninspired works. The unsettling soundscapes of Crumax Rins and Cedar City can hardly tilt the balance away from the conventional IDM of B Born Droid and Get What You Gave, no matter how energetic Upona is. Even when it is sprinkled with sound effects (the vocal sample of Even Spring, the hammered dulcimer of Zeal), this dance music is a repetition of themes that have never been terribly original or entertaining.

No matter how elaborate, Plaid's Greedy Baby (Warp, 2006), a collaboration with video artist Jaroc, sounds cold and artificial to the point of not being art but mere industry. The Return of Super Barrio is a glimpse of what the duo had in mind, but could not achieve.

Ken Downie reformed Black Dog for the mediocre Radio Scarecrow (2008).

Ed Handley and Andy Turner continued the saga of Plaid with Scintilli (2011), their calmer effort but nonetheless featuring the intricate and disorienting Unbank and Talk To Us.

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