The word “virtuoso” doesn’t get thrown around much these days, but a musician you can definitively apply that tag to is Plini. The Australian songwriter has been blowing minds since 2012, first writing music under the pseudonym Halcyon before opting to use his own name a few years later to continuously growing success. His mind-melting guitar skills have earned him regular mentions in countless Best Guitarist lists and a huge number of fans worldwide, including the legendary guitar god Steve Vai who’s hailed him as “the future of exceptional guitar playing”. No pressure, then.
After a handful of EPs and the release of the stunning 2016 debut album ‘Handmade Cities’, all eyes were on Plini to unveil new music that would enhance his already stellar reputation and drop some more global jaws. Now is the time for that new material, and his second full -ength record ‘Impulse Voices’ is primed to do exactly that.
As soon as the album swells into action with ‘I’ll Tell You Someday’ it becomes immediately clear that he’s picking up exactly where he left off. Tasteful licks, subtle atmospheric textures and impactful dynamic surges all fuse together in sensory bliss as Plini majestically welcomes you through the gates to his world. The thick bass and luscious tones of ‘Papelillo’ will have you comfortably settling into your new surroundings, urging you to warm up your neck muscles in preparation for all the grooving it’s about to do during the alluringly haunting ‘Perfume’ and the triumphant, tumultuous journey of ‘Last Call’.
The second half of the record glistens brightly, showcasing just how many weapons Plini has at his disposal. The title track is an unapologetically funky gem, clocking in as the shortest track on the record but cramming a whole host of vibe changes and time signature fluctuations into its duration. ‘Pan’ is an expertly balanced exhibit of ominous weight and serene meditation, using both sides to juxtapose one another almost as though they’re in conversation.
The sublime, synth-laced and almost jazzy ‘Ona / 1154’ is a futuristic mouth-watering palette cleanser before the main event and closing track ‘The Glass Bead Game’, by far the biggest track on the album and certainly the most breathtaking. Starting off with fragile textures that slowly grow in numbers, it cleverly fluctuates from pensive and brooding to bulky and thunderous, every step expertly orchestrated to create a beautiful and epic finale. This track and the whole album flows incredibly smoothly, making for an extraordinary and thrilling listen through the mind of a musical genius. Instrumental prog has never sounded so elegant.
‘Impulse Voices’ goes way beyond a critically praised prodigy flexing their technical muscles. This isn’t shredding solo after shredding solo, nor is it an overtly indulgent “hey everyone, look how good I am” display of ability. It’s a really beautifully thought out collection of music that Plini uses to demonstrate his grasp on melody, harmony, structure and songwriting in general.
He has a distinct and powerful ability to convey a whole host of different colours through his music, and he’s used this album an exercise in utilising as much of his palette as possible. He paints a detailed landscape with every song, immersing you into his visions so vividly that you can feel all the different shades dancing around you, often colliding with each other in firework-like displays of awe.
There is no doubt that Plini effortlessly shows his guitaring prowess as he jumps from one end of the fretboard to the other with style and graceful ease, but the way each song progresses and melodically plays out is the core that the record orbits around. His playing style and technique is just one of the many tools he has at his disposal, but it’s not the focus of the record. This is instrumental music written with the song’s needs at its epicentre, and the end result is nothing short of dazzling. A must listen for prog fans and guitar lovers alike.