Plekzationz, while by no means Edwards' first long-player, feels like an attempt to address that problem. As well as seeing the producer discard his moniker in favour of his own name, the album reportedly features a newfound focus on editing and post-production across its four 15 minute-odd tracks. The involvement of Editions Mego seems telling, too: is this Edwards finally favouring posterity over spontaneity, attempting to move beyond the DIY erraticism of his past discography to step onto a platform with the "serious" experimental musicians of the day?
The album certainly plumbs the darker, knottier depths of Edwards' soundworld. Drawing on the experimentalism of the Radiophonic Workshop and the shoestring avant-gardism of early dub reggae, Plekzationz is an unremittingly dense, challenging listen. But the rewards have the potential to be considerable: this is a record replete with moments of rich strangeness, the kind of intoxicating sonic combinations that invite deep listening. Delays shriek across the stereo field, overloading circuits in dense clouds of distortion; synth gestures loom out of the murk with a B-movie sense of melodrama; hypnotic sequences burble menacingly in the background.
Viewed with a wide lens, though, the album's failings become apparent. Each of the four tracks here consists of a sequence of smaller sketches, stitched together after the fact. The resultant structures are dreamlike: a succession of vivid, surrealist tableaux that scorch themselves onto the retinas but rarely suggest any greater structural coherence. At points, you can forgive them: about three quarters of the way through "Part 2: (No) Escape From '79" a throbbing, brain-boring drone suddenly crumbles like wet plaster, allowing the tortured wails of some imagined machine hell to force their way through the gaps—one of the record's few genuinely breathtaking moments. "Part 3: Inside The Analog Continuum," meanwhile, finds coherence in its rhythmic focus, its primitivist drum-loops seeming to punch through the music's surface with barely restrained aggression.
But what becomes clear is the extent to which, compared to the giants of musique concrete that Edwards admires, his music is often strangely immobile, lacking in dynamism—and above all ceaselessly monochrome. The closing track is the only fully live, one-take recording here and, while its methodical development is compelling at first, the impression of plodding onanism soon settles in. "A Pedant's Progress" sounds about right: too often this music, for all its potential for brilliance, becomes mired in the self-absorption of a man at play with his machines.