If you read my entry on this month’s Editors’ Picks (publishing in a few days), you’ll see that I talk about growth there. Without spoiling my pick for this month (hint: it’s not too far stylistically from Plini), let me repeat, briefly, my ideas from there: one of the greatest thing in the world is seeing an artist grow. Watching someone dig deep into why they make music and take ideas that were just hinted at in their early works as foundations for something greater is one of the main reasons why I spend so much time with music journalism. There really aren’t too many examples which better drive this point home than Plini; from bedroom project, through nu-prog sensation and all the way to an artist which constantly (and I mean constantly, take a look at his tour dates) tours the world, Plini has grown before our eyes into one of the most impressive and intriguing musicians around.
But what now, after an album that is arguably his masterpiece? Where will Plini go next? The answer, as given on his latest EP, Sunhead, can best be summarized as “to the same place, but differently“. Sunhead is very much a continuation of Plini’s previous works; all you need to do in order to grasp that is listen to the lead single, “Salt + Charcoal”. This is the track that perhaps most communicates with his previous album. The sweet guitar tone, it’s use in conjunction with the bass and the drums and the overall vibe of the track (especially prominent are the airy choir/synths/vocal effects that are used near the middle) all screams of Plini’s signature trademark.
But Sunhead also injects the virtuoso’s sound with a lot of new influences, mainly ranging from jazz and onwards to the fusion. Third track “FlâneurT” (a somewhat derogatory term from French for a lazy person) is downright jazz fusion. The opening piano, working off of the track’s languishing name, is playful and takes its time and its relaxed position in regards to the bass and drums is all jazz. Quickly, these elements blend into a heavier riffs, which brings the progressive metal back into the mix and lends some of the thicker sounds created by Simon Grove a more prominent place. But right after that, weird-ass synths enter the fray, riding the main rhythm line in an almost improvisatory way right before the saxophone enters the fray. Yeah, I said saxophone and I don’t mind some cheap, half-written guest spot but a proper segment, interacting with all the elements which came before.
We mentioned Simon Grove in the above paragraph but his names bears repeating; it’s hard to overstate how much his presence, both behind the bass guitar and the production, is essential to what has become Plini’s sound. This release makes even better use of his skills, and of Chris Allison’s skills behind the drums, in articulating these new, jazzier elements on Sunhead. The result is an EP which serves as a kind of post-script to Handmade Cities, while feeling anything but a discarded afterthought. Instead, it is merely where Handmade Cities was always striving towards and working towards; we can only hope that more music is on the way and that it continues this excellent line of growth for Plini.