Two Rights Don’t Quite Make a Wrong
A CD/DVD collaboration four years in the making from ambient techno duo Plaid and visual artist Bob Jaroc, Greedy Baby illustrates the difficulty of releasing music in conjunction with other media. A book or videos may make a set of songs “that much better,” but if one part or the other is spotty where does that leave the value of the package as a whole?
Ed Handley and Andy Turner’s long fascination with aloof vibrato sounds accounts for some of this album’s best work. Birds dominate some of their Jaroc visuals, germs of ideas that eventually envelop song and viewer alike — a morphing abstract line drawing for the perky “The Launching of Big Face,” and manipulated flocks of thousands in a meditation on direction called “To.”
With Jaroc as a co-creator Plaid also travels decidedly darker paths. “I Citizen the Loathsome,” written like an Orbital song that keeps stalling out, devolves into guitar sludge as Jaroc’s revolving cityscapes reveal two creepy parting shots. He saves the meandering “Zn Zero,” using it to find small synchronicities in footage of urban Japan.
Jaroc has his intrusive moments, however. “War Dialer” assembles sound found by the titular hacker’s tool into ghostly malevolence, yet a simplistic, colorful animation negates its power. He also does little but mimic spinning Vari-Lites in “Super Positions,” about as booming a dance track as Plaid can bring.
Rounded out by some extra videos and two overwrought spectacles (“E.M.R,” an allegory on the four elements, and the Mexican wrestling tale “The Return of Super Barrio”), Greedy Baby is a fearless collection of sensory experiences sadly perforated by inconsistency. It’s no failure, but for all their effort Plaid and Bob Jaroc don’t attain greatness here, they merely approach it.