Plini – Handmade Cities
Release Date: August 26th, 2016
Review By: Rod Whitfield
For starters, let me just state for the record that I believe this young prodigy Plini to be one and the absolute most important figures on the Aussie progressive music scene today. When you have one of the greatest luminaries of the electric guitar in history, Mr Steve Vai, saying this –
“When I saw Plini play I felt that the future of exceptional guitar playing was secure.”
-You know you’re doing something very, very right. When I listen to his debut long player, over and over and over (he has released myriad EPs and singles prior to this release, all of which are stunning), I am truly awestruck. By the displays of sheer technical dexterity on display by Plini and his backing band, absolutely. But, even more so, by the dazzling compositional virtuosity that is going on within the grooves of Handmade Cities. I’d imagine it would actually be easier for a guitar virtuoso to simply write pieces that are pure blistering shredfests (and don’t get me wrong, I love those too), rather than actually construct sweeping, orchestral compositions that ebb and flow, rise and swell, enthral and entrap the listener and strongly resemble the music of great movie soundtracks. But the latter is exactly what Plini does.
More succinctly put, he resists the temptation to say ‘look at me, this is what I can do on a fretboard’, in favour of saying ‘this is what I can do with my imagination and my songwriting nous.’
When I listen to Handmade Cities however, I can’t help but feel he is holding something back from we, the ravenous listening hordes. Teasing us, giving a little of what he can do and then taking it back again, giving the promise of a sumptuous four-course meal and then only providing the delicious entrée. And what’s more, I believe he is in full career management mode in doing things this way, he absolutely in control of this. He is not giving everything away all at once, he is being smart about it. He is premeditatedly serving up that delicious entrée and then, once our tastebuds are piqued and digestive juices are flowing, saying ‘no, you have to wait til next time.’
PT Barnum has been attributed with the quote ‘always leave them wanting more’, and I feel that young master Plini may be a strong subscriber to this adage. One gets the feeling he has another bazillion or so ideas left up his well-practised sleeve.
All that said, there are still plenty of delights on offer on Handmade Cities. The title track is funkily magnificent, Pastures is a spectacular and dynamic seven-and-a-half-minute journey, Every Piece Matters is cruisy, breezy and cool before becoming grandiose during its closing moments and Cascade lives up to its name, closing off proceedings in truly expansive style.
Let us view Handmade Cities as the first step, in fact maybe second step after the EP releases, on a journey of a thousand miles that Plini will take over the course of his career.