The Spotlight | Plaid with Outputmessage at U Street Music Hall (January 18, 9pm)
Although Plaid pre-existed the association, the duo’s Ed Handley and Andy Turner spent most of their early recording years with Ken Downie as the dancefloor-confounding Black Dog Productions. The pair brought several nascent Plaid tracks to the Black Dog table on the group’s debut, Bytes, a collection of tracks recorded by various iterations of the three members. The group recorded several albums and EPs throughout the early and mid-’90s, helping to forge a style of dance music one step removed from the 12″ considerations of the average faceless techno act. Handley and Turner’s mutual love of early hip-hop contributed BDP’s more bawdy, street-level grit.
The pair split from Downie in 1995, and began rechanneling their efforts full-time with an EP on the neo-electro Clear label before signing to Warp. Both of Plaid’s first two full-lengths, 1998’s Not for Threes and the following year’s Rest Proof Clockwork, were issued in the U.S. through Nothing. Once Warp set up a home on American shores, however, Plaid made the natural switch with the long-awaited collection Trainer. Their proper third album, Double Figure, followed in spring 2001, their remix collection Parts in the Post was issued in 2003, and the end of the same year brought the duo’s fourth proper LP, Spokes.
Plaid were quiet on the recording front for several years, finally returning in mid-2006 with Greedy Baby, a mini-album that found the pair co-billed with visual artist Bob Jaroc. Two years later, they made the small leap to recording the soundtrack for Heaven’s Door, a Japanese film directed by Michael Arias. In 2011, they returned with Scintilli, released on Warp. Three years later, they nodded to the warmer and more playful sounds of their late-’90s material with Reachy Prints. This was followed by 2016’s The Digging Remedy, which revisited the Detroit techno influence of their earliest work. The album featured flute and guitar by guest musician Benet Walsh, who had contributed to most of Plaid’s albums since Not for Threes.
Outputmessage is DC resident Bernard Farley, a singer, producer, and DJ whose style ranges from upbeat electro pop to techno and house. He’s a member of Volta Bureau (whose song, “Alley Cat”, topped the Beatport indie-dance chart), but has also been churning out tunes on his own since 2003, releasing stand-out tracks and remixes on labels such as Ghostly, Melodic, and his own Output Noise Records. In 2006, he released his first album Nebulae, a set of instrumental songs displaying his knack for catchy melodies and lush synth work. Since then, Farley’s honed his “creamy baritone” and released an eclectic array of vocal tracks from the uplifting electro house album Autonomous, to the funky indie and nu-disco of the Game Over EP and most recently, the lush futuristic R&B of the Quantum Love EP. He is currently finishing work on a new album of “space music”, which promises to be his most sonically adventurous yet.
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