Monday, 26 September 2016

Plini "Handmade Cities" (2016)

For some fans its been a long wait but luckily for me Australian guitarist Plini's debut full length drops just after Ive finished catching up on his three previous EPs. Timing couldn't of been better but since it dropped Ive spent much more time than usual with this record, for it has the potential to be one held dear. Even after a month I still find various melodies, grooves and moments in the record hitting me on different levels and I'm far from finished with it. What Ive heard is Plini really taking advantage of the record format with seven solid and cohesive tracks that play together like a singular experience.

Its an easy ride of gorgeous instrumentals emanating positivity, exploring creativity and toying with inspiration in a setting for lasting melodies and sublime grooves. Labeled as Progressive Metal and "Djent", this record further removes itself from the origin sound of its inception. As if in a loop, it sounds most like Progressive Rock but not in a traditional sense, more a technical similarity. Plini's sense for bright, colorful melodies in a temperate setting are dazzling and come through delicious instruments delicately captured for ripe and powerful sounds to arise from gentle playing. In its heaviest moments the crunchy low guitar djents of "Pastures" feel more like a cushion for tantalizing grooves to persuade so graciously. With a gleaming electric guitar solo cruising in from above and soothing acoustics ringing out it feels like a flood of inspiration came crashing out of nowhere, powerful.

This song is brilliant and its an example of something this record does, take its time. Its four minutes before the song engages with its sublime guitar solo and after the climax the chunky djents and acoustics gently unwind with expansive drums that feel so gracious in their awaiting of the lead guitar to see the song off. The record picks up its intensity as it goes along and the closing track "Cascades" maybe the most metallic in terms of its vibrant energy and it starts with these rhythmically supreme odd time signatures to lap up with the lead guitars 4/4 so brilliantly. It feels like a true inspiration of genius and in a brief mid track climactic moment a more cliched riff emerges with an exuberant performance that will have you yearning for more.

In "Handmade Cities" nothing is rushed, every moment feels leisurely and fluid, instruments can drop in and out of the mix noticeably in a strangely satisfying way. After trying to nail what was so clever about it I though back to the Prog Rock epics that could span up to twenty minutes. There's a lack of repetition at play, Plini keeps things moving and evolving at a dynamic pace that never gives up and so we get that epic and brilliant feel from short songs as everything its condensed down to its point. His continual presence with the lead guitar really masks the sections that could effectively loop to aid this marvelous sense of moving forward without urgency.

The records production also has a lot to say for what makes it so great. The instruments sound crisp, slick and smooth but as if they are alive, right in the room with you. At times there are a lot of layers of instruments, never clashing of feeling restricted together. Even in the moments where double pedals kick in or the songs break into metallic styling does anything feel overbearing. The synths that subtly creep in also have a powerful effect as their tones meld into the other instruments. In conclusion all aspects of these record are on the same wavelength. Inspired, gleaming with color and sounding spectacular. This is all the brilliance Plini showed in his previous records arriving at a new level.

Favorite Tracks: Handmade Cities, Every Piece Matters, Pastures, Cascade
Rating: 9/10