Plini – “Impulse Voices”

Sometimes I wonder what it would have been like to live through the Jimi Hendrix years, or to witness the rise of so many guitar greats out there.  Then, I realized something: I am witnessing it right now.  And as we watch the rise of Plini’s guitar prowess, we need to enjoy the view along the way.  His new album “Impulse Voices” comes out on November 27th, and it further proves that he is one of the best players alive today.

Plini has quite a story.  He comes to us from Australia, and is completely self-trained.  It is a rare thing to achieve such virtuosity by yourself, and it is even more uncommon to be tapped as an instructor for prestigious schools, too.  Yet, the man seems humble and reserved, and I like that.  On this particular album, the lineup includes: Chris Allison on drums, Simon Grove on bass and stunt guitar, Dave Mackay piano and synth, Devesh Dayal & Aleksandra Djelmash on voices, John Waugh on saxophone, Amy Turk on harp, and of course Plini on everything else.

One thing about the guitar greats that always sticks out immediately is their ability to innovate and create a signature sound.  Gilmour had it.  Hackett had it.  Hendrix had it.  The list goes on.  Plini has that same skill.  His music is a mixture of progressive rock and djent, sometimes leaning more towards metal, and there are certainly influences from a wide array of genres, from jazz to classical to pop.  His music always possesses an airy, clean quality, even in its most complex moments.  And his style of playing is one of my favorites because of his crisp, purposeful licks and rhythms.  His writing always feels like it is going somewhere, not just meandering or filling in time.  As a result, he and his music can often feel cerebral and burning with mathematical passion.

I say that, however, with the counter point that Plini’s music is also always melodic and beautiful.  Somehow, he manages to balance the complexity of a guitar virtuoso with the melody and eclecticism of an artist.  Similar to Hackett’s solo career, I find Plini’s albums to be less focused on guitar than you might expect, having plenty of space for other instruments and feelings.  That is the mark of a truly great musician, in my eyes.

“Impulse Voices” has eight tracks and clocks in around 38 minutes in length.  It’s not a long album by any stretch, but I think it’s the perfect length.  Each of the tracks is like a microcosm of beauty, theme, and tone, and I don’t see the need for them to be longer individually, either.  You’ve probably heard the singles “Papelillo” and “I’ll Tell You Someday”.  I like them both, especially the latter one for being the sparkling, melodic opener with such a gorgeous ending.  If I’m being honest, though, they are the weakest songs on the album.

My favorite songs overall are “Perfume”, “Impulse Voices”, “Pan”, and “The Glass Bead Game”.  “Perfume” flirts with your senses, being almost bluesy and ambient in tone for most of its runtime.  The electronic beat and climactic ending are simply amazing.  The title track itself feels like a statement from Plini.  It has his most signature moves and direct licks, and its djenty, grand ending feels illustrious, to say the least.

“Pan” is my favorite song here, and what a song it is!  It feels fantastical, grounded, and so promising all at the same time, and when it climaxes near the middle, you expect it to be done, but it isn’t finished at all.  The song moves into a fantastic sax solo that rises to meet a stunning tide of riffs and an extraordinary solo.  What a goosebump-inducing five minutes!  The final track is “The Glass Bead Game”, and it is also the longest at 9 minutes in length.  While it possesses some effervescent qualities, it hits hard, too, and even feels a bit ethereal and cinematic in the second half.  I love the way it ends.

Plini is slowly sharing his genius with the world, and this album is yet another sample.  “Impulse Voices” literally gives guitar a voice, that pure and hopeful sound that Plini is so good at creating.  This album is a palette cleanser in many ways, creating in me ambition and desire for more such compositions.  If you are feeling weighed down by some of the muddier genres or albums this year, or even just the events of this year itself, “Impulse Voices” is here to carry your heart to the sky.


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