Today, IDM legends, still kicking!
Proem - Until Here for Years (n5MD)
Well known Texan IDM experimenter, Richard Bailey had a surprise for us in 2019. His last two self-released LPs were very cinematic/ambient focus but his comeback on n5MD, Until here for Years, is a proper electronica release. And not a lazy one, at that. This LP leads us on a beaten musical path but the sheer creativity and generosity of it all make it a contemporary classic. From glitchy beats and bubbly bass to sci-fi ambient and pulsing synths, Until here for Years fly, with extreme competence, into every direction and give us a tour of everything the genre has to offer. It would be reductive to call it a nostalgia trip only, though. Each track is so expertly made, the headphone experience so modern, clean and crisp. After multiple listens in 2019, I’ve found it an immensely rewarding album: both an introduction to and an achievement of the whole IDM genre.
Plaid - Polymer (Warp)
In the 90s, Plaid may have been the most inviting of IDM pioneers, with their nice round sound, hip-hop beats, and clean melodies. You could have said that they sound a little more shallow than an Autechre or an Aphex Twin… I’m realizing, in hindsight, that all these years, they were the most profound one, creating this comfy, expanding universe for me to live in, nearly all my life; constantly changing their sounds from release to release but staying steady and true to the creative world of the release before. As you can see, I have so much respect for Plaid: their 30 years back catalog is insane, with no real misfire and their latest releases, Polymer is, superb, as always. You probably know how it sounds: It makes you head-bob to the clean synthetic melodies, makes you crave the darker conceptual experiment. It makes you feel a lot and… It makes you think too: It’s more demanding and direct compares to the two albums before: Reachy Prints and The Digging Remedy.
So, it feels good, it feels new and it also feels very familiar: who needs more than that? It seems effortless, easy even, but 10 studio albums at this level, it cannot be. After all this time, IDM is no longer an experimental genre and, of course, there is a very real formula to Plaid music. In interviews, Ed and Andy, talk about having a kind of traditional Japanese approach to their craft: “where artists are proud to repeat and refine their processes”. In all fairness, to an anxious, almost-forty-years-old guy like me, that resonates, deep, and Polymer is probably my favorites releases of 2019.
I may have a few remaining 2019 favs, stay tuned! (or just subscribe below to get them in your inbox)
Subscribe to Ambient Music is Dead
Get the latest posts delivered right to your inbox