Warp lifers Plaid return with their 10th LP. Polymer is a baker’s dozen of tunes that finds the duo of Ed Handley and Andy Turner showing off all of their tricks. Crafted under the manifesto ‘Polyphony, Pollution and Politics’, Polymer manages to synthesise this trio of concerns into a set of stirring electronic compositions.
Unsurprisingly for a record so heavily concerned with the current socio-political climate, there are times when Polymer can be an intense listen. Quite a few of these tunes feature the sort of wheezy, pensive synth play that crops up in the work of Oneohtrix Point Never. The fact that this is frequently wed to choppy breakbeat techno rhythms (think Clark) only heightens the air of dystopian unease that skulks in the background of the LP.
However, the ‘Polyphony’ that the group lean on here also spawns some gorgeous moments. An entry like ‘Maru’ chains propulsive beats together with some sparkling harmonies in a manner that recalls Modeselektor or Apparat. It is a clouds-parting moment, one where the worries that plague Polymer lift and the listener is swept away by the simple beauty of Plaid’s music. Handley and Turner repeat the magic several times across the track list, and these computer ballads bring Polymer close to the sort of records Mark Pritchard has been crafting of late.
As they have done time and again throughout their career, Plaid draw a human warmth from their machines on Polymer.