Back in the early days of my existence, I developed a certain love for “choose your own adventure” books. There was just something so thrilling about feeling like I had a hand in how the story played out. Oftentimes, I’d make a decision as to which scenario I wished to unfold and would be so intensely convinced it was the right one, and then turn to the designated page only to find out I had effectively ended the story/allowed the evil zombie robot mutant dinosaurs to blow up the world. So it makes sense that I’d eventually grow to be especially fond of instrumental music. Not that I think it particularly superior to its lyric-laden counterpart—I just place it in a separate league altogether because in terms of how differently the brain processes it.
The language of music is such a vastly different expression than that which is written and spoken. Without words, it creates a unique experience for the listener, leaving it up to them to come up with their own visualization/understanding of the music without the words to shift their listening session in a certain direction, much like a choose your own adventure story. Such is the case with Sydney, Australia’s Plini, a instrumental progressive rock solo artist whose recently-released “The End of Everything” (the final installment of a three-part EP collection, aptly titled “The Trilogy”) is a cavalcade of wistfully crafted jazz/prog rock tracks, and undoubtedly worth the wait.
Also present throughout is a string of guest appearances from some of the finest players of modern progressive music, such as Chris Letchford (Scale the Summit), Jakub Zytecki (Disperse), Marco Minnemann (Joe Satriani, Steven Wilson, The Aristocrats) Simon Grove (The Helix Nebula), and Luke Martin on the piano. The opening title track bursts onto the scene explosively, with a callback to the end of the first EP in the trilogy. It damn-near-perfectly sets the stage for the range of musical territory the following tracks explore; the massive, swooping distorted guitar melodies effortlessly drift downstream into a whirlpool of clean channel jazz fusion-y riffage accompanied by a rolling, ever-changing drumline that flows in perfect rhythmic synergy with the rest of the instrumentation.
There’s something so unique, so distinctive about the vibe that Plini’s music gives off—it’s like if Pat Metheny’s guitar playing took a trip to space, married a progressive metal band, then flew back down to earth but had to make an emergency landing in the ocean and got stranded on an island. Maybe it’s just the recurring album covers of floating space-islands on all 3 episodes of this trilogy, but that seems like the most likely course of action that would lead to such interesting music as this.
Feelings that I never even knew I had have emerged from engaging in a Plini listening session every night for the past 4 months; it has been a transcendental experience to say the least. On track 2, “Wombat Astronaut (Beyond the Burrow)”, my personal favorite track of this album (and the entire trilogy, at that), we are wisped away to the magical floating space-island, cracking open some coconuts as we are serenaded with a calming storm of smoothy-clean guitar mastery, followed by a synthy overlay which is just so damned beautiful. This is the type of music that simply cannot be described accurately with any sort of alphabetical or numerical language, it just has to be felt, hugged, and embraced.
I keep returning to this track again and again because I feel that it explores such a wide range of emotional depth. It’s the prudently perfect penultimate prelude into the 9 minute opus that is “Paper Moon”. For a trilogy spanning over the course of 3 years, the finale obviously must be one to remember. Plini most definitely took extra care in this aspect, as it seems like the entire trilogy was written to end just like this. Sporadic splatters of riffs, samples, and segments from the previous EP’s are thrown in and weaved seamlessly throughout, providing many fun easter eggs and “AHA!” moments. It’s been 3 months since I first heard this album and I’m STILL noticing new stuff every day; it’s a wonderful joy to listen the trilogy in succession and pick out all of the callbacks and references to past songs. It ties everything together in a truly fantastic way and demonstrates the immense level of quality of this music; such a carefully put together, highly admirable work of art.
This is the kind of music that we all need; something to fall into, to think to, to create a story to. Most reviews like this would end with a “and I can’t wait to see what so-and-so has in store for the future” and while I do wonder about the awesomeness that is to come from this young up-and-coming Australian composer, I could honestly bask in this album (and the rest of the trilogy) forever and I would be eternally satiated. The trilogy has become a part of me, and will surely accompany me through the rest of my journey here. So it comes at my highest level of recommendation that you grace yourself with this spectacularly astounding artist’s music ASAP and I can wholeheartedly assure you that regretting it is a thing you will not do.
Reminds me of… A FULL PIE OF THICK, JUICY, WOOD-FIRED STUFFED CRUST SICILIAN SLICES
Would go great with a side of… Pat Metheny, Animals As Leaders, Scale The Summit
“WOMBAT ASTRONAUT (BEYOND THE BURROW)