Somewhat of a self-made guitar hero (with none of usual accompanying pretentiousness, if a recent interview with Overdrive is anything to go by), Sydney’s Plini ‘s tightly-packed, ambitious ‘Sunhead’ EP reflects a confidence in exploring new boundaries without losing staying power or lingering aimlessly. Short and sweet.
Speaking of sweet, as you’d imagine from the title, ‘Kind’ begins with a sultry wash of the staccato-but-friendly off-time happy chord movements we come to expect. Settling back down into very jazzy chords, warm rich bass and leads that pulse and swell as they please, this is Plini enjoying his effortlessly flirtatious relationship with complex chords and scales. Dancing around the fretboard with seamless vision, the track is more subdued before breaking into a more frenetic latter half, including a couple of blasts and almost metallic runs. Definitely an element of heaviness creeping in moreso than before on this one.
EP single ‘Salt + Charcoal’ leaves these Animals as Leaders tendencies behind for a bit, utilizing soft plucking and ambient synth to gently roll into a big wall of bright but deliberately-disjointed power chords. Out of nowhere, a very jazz-fusion-inspired drum and bass shuffle erupts with very heavy distortion on the latter. The Helix Nebula boys, acting as the backing unit for Plini’s ethereal meandering, have beefed the tone game up here, and the resulting sound is both jarring, thick and warm. Like a classic car roaring to life. Flitting synths and leads and solos all play around this central reference point before chugging into a militaristic style pattern. More urgent-sounding now, a polyrhythmic beat grows and swells with rolling bass and clattering drums, drifting out in a dark-sounding heavily echo-heavy outro.
‘Flaneur’, meanwhile, changes the entire Plini script completely. Immediately, a purely jazz-laden laidback rhythm section and bluesy, harmonic-filled riff move in slyly through the front door. Like a mate you love but haven’t seen for ten years who just pops around uninvited, sits on your couch and just asks ‘so-how-ya-goin?’
Even later, as the requisite Plini style of soaring leads build into those familiar djent-like riffs, we’re met suddenly with a bluesy, warbling keyboard solo by guest pianist/keyboardist Anomalie?! Followed immediately by an absolutely smooth, caramel-flavoured saxophone solo, by John Waugh of The 1975’s?! But, what – never mind, he’s back to soloing again! What is happening? There’s no time to digest it all. No matter, though; it’s so skillfully woven together it feels deliberate, warm and just plain right. Further proof that this is a man who can boldly step into new territory but do so in such a carefree fashion, you’d swore it was just another day at the office. The bar-by-night piano and simple jazz sax thump outro rolls out the rest of the song in Plini’s absence. You will play this several times in a row just out of sheer curiosity and awe. Is this… this is Plini, right?
Converging the two very juxtaposing feels of ‘Flaneur’ with the prior two (and hell, his back catalogue), title track ‘Sunhead’ weaves the two together into another warm, fuzzy jazz-inspired intro. Woah, no, never mind! A super-distorted, almost Devin Townsend larger-than-life wave of heavy distorted guitar and we’re suddenly back to that nice cosy little jazz corner the song came in with. An absolutely delightful bass solo and endlessly rollicking drums fill out a nice niche for a while. Subdued soloing continues along this trend for a while before we launch back into ‘Seventh Wave’ levels of cavernous riff-ery. Determined to leave this show on a big note, the powerfully-bright chords, leads and solos that see this EP out are footnotes stamped into your ears.
GET YOUR HANDS ON “SUNHEAD” HERE!