Australian instrumental guitarist Plini came out of nowhere in the past couple years fueled by comments from Steve Vai that with Plini, he “felt that the future of exceptional guitar playing was secure.” Based on such praise from the guitar legend, one would think Plini is a shred meister. While he is certainly technically proficient with his instrument, it’s not his shred chops that have defined his rise in popularity, it’s his music. In a metal guitar scene dominated by minor key detuned riffage and solos, Plini’s music is, well… happy. He constructs his songs with particular attention to interesting and graceful rhythm work. Djent like, without the anger and disjointed syncopation. He then adds additional color via his creative, lyrical lead work resulting in real songs instead of the usual shred formula of vanilla 4/4 rhythms used as a vehicle for an onslaught of unfettered shred mayhem.
Plini’s first full release was 2016’s Handmade Cities. This release opened doors for tours with the likes of Animals as Leaders and Tesseract. He even did a headlining tour of the US over the past year. His latest release, the EP Sunhead, builds upon the framework established with Handmade Cities. Melodic guitar driven instrumentals with some shred mixed in to satisfy the guitar heads but still maintain the focus on the song. He continues his approach of producing positive, uplifting music that just makes you want to smile.
Opening track, “Kind”, introduces some jazzy elements in the opening seconds with a bass driven riff that could have come straight out of the seventies. Some clean jazz chords come in to propel the riff. The trademark Plini lead sound eventually enters the picture to tie everything together. His note selection is tasteful and restrained and never sounds like playing for the sake of playing. While Plini has indicated that the songs on Sunhead were written right after Handmade Cities, kind certainly seems like a progression in his music.
“Salt + Charcoal” begins with what sounds like a Police era Andy Summers riff and slowly swells up from there. This track is more reminiscent of Handmade Cities and would fit comfortably within that release. That being said, this release does find Plini experimenting with some additional voicings and color to add to his repertoire such as some vocal and keyboard stylings provided by Devesh Dayal, guitarist for SkyHarbor.
“Flâneur” takes his sounds in new directions as well. It starts with the feel of a late night jazz club with a slow bass driven number with piano accompaniment. Plini plays some restrained lead work before bringing the energy with more frenzied guitar work. From there, things really change. A laid back synth solo provided by Montreal keyboardist Anomalie filters in followed by a sax solo from London saxophonist, John Waugh. Plini then trades solos with Anomalie, this time on the piano and with Waugh again as well. “Flâneur” is arguably the most mature work I’ve heard from the Aussie. He has stated that his album was heavily influenced by his constant touring over the past couple of years, and this tune is the most direct result of these influences and formed friendships.
The distorted “Sunhead” brings the listener back into more familiar territory with a driving guitar riff before settling into a clean, chorus toned chords. Simon Grove provides a tasteful bass solo to complement the laid back riff. Plini then steps in with a clean solo that explores the underlying rhythm foundation. Thais song is sure to be a crowd favorite on his upcoming tour.
Clocking in at only twenty minutes, it sure seems like a longer journey. But, according to Plini, he wanted to pack as much “detail and refinement into the composition and playing as possible”. A perfect album to listen to while driving along the coast on a warm, sunny day; this EP solidifies Plini‘s place among the new breed of instrumental kings acts such as Animals as Leaders, Scale the Summit, Covet and Intervals. This guys is a living proof that you don’t have to play non stop blistering solos to raise your head above the legions of guitar shredders trying to make a name for themselves. Highly recommended.
Released By: Self Released
Release Date: July 27th, 2018
Genre: Instrumental Guitar
- Chris Allison / Drums
- Simon Grove / Bass
- Devesh Dayal / Vocals + additional production on “Salt + Charcoal”
- Anomalie / Piano + synths on “Flâneur”
- John Waugh / Saxophone on “Flâneur”
- Tim Miller / Guitar solo on “Sunhead”
- Plini / Everything else
- Salt + Charcoal
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"Sunhead" is a continuation of Plini’s unique approach to guitar driven instrumentals while adding some fresh, new ingredients to the mix. Experimental, organic and beautiful guitar-work showcasing his jazzier side mixed with his djenty origins
No Tim Miller mention on Sunhead?