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Plaid - Scintilli (2011)

The first time i listened to the album, i was somewhat underwhelmed by it. Part of it was the anticipation; the album was supposed to come out in 2009 and kept on getting pushed off for reasons that were never disclosed. Part of it was that if you're not paying close attention, it doesn't seem like the album offers anything particularly new, doesn't push the envelope in the same way that, say, Clark or Aphex Twin tends to push their sound envelope and signature from album to album.

My opinion of the album has changed a lot now that i've listened to it on loop several times for the past couple of days and have it more immersed in my head; Scintilli isn't supposed to reinvent Plaid, it's a solid establishment of what's made Plaid successful all of these years in a way that's reminiscent of early Plaid, carrying a lot of similarities to albums like Not For Threes and Double Figure but more refined. It's a throwback to Plaid's music being just about Plaid's music in a way that they haven't done in a while since most of their stuff after Spokes in 2003 has been collaborative in nature. Greedy Baby was a collaboration with video artist Bob Jaroc. Tekkonkinkreet and Heaven's Door were movie soundtracks. Chime Super Delux was an interactive video game music soundtrack. That music is still distinctly Plaid and i still love listening to those albums over and over again, but they definitely have a slightly different flavor to them than Plaid's standalone albums in the days when i was first getting to know them.

So now here's a standalone album, taking what i feel is the best about Plaid from way back when and adding an additional eight to ten more years of experience and comfort knowing what they like and doing what they do best. And yeah, it's pretty great. Opening with a relaxing waltz-like tune that's actually in 5/8 with some great harmonic movement and signature Plaid melodies, then moving into a slow groove track based around some didgeridoo sounds, then moving to an upbeat rhythmic tune in 7/8, and on and on. The album sports a lot of variety without losing sight of the signature Plaid sound.

I had said back when i wrote the stepchart for [Host] that i wasn't going to write any more stepcharts until Scintilli was released. The DDR community i was involved in has somewhat come and gone, but i'm still rather tempted to create a Scintilli stepchart pack. I feel somewhat out of date in stepchart creation, but i don't care; i think it would be fun. I have a lot on my plate in terms of projects and work right now, but i still need some downtime, some way to channel my creative energy into things that don't really mean much in the end since right now it seems like a lot of my energy is devoted to either meaningful things or meaningless things that aren't creative. We'll see what happens.

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