Review Summary: Plini completes his trilogy of EPs with the most impressively produced and bombastically composed installment of the bunch.
Since 2013, the Australian musician who goes solely by the name of Plini has released a ton of material, albeit in bite-sized chunks. In the aforementioned year we were treated to three separate EPs with his jazzy, addictive guitarwork – “Other Things”, “Sweet Nothings”, and an excellent split with fellow stringsman Sithu Aye. With these releases and the addition of a steady stream of unrelated singles, Plini built up a following and became well known in the progressive music scene, even among musicians and guitarists with much more fame than he possessed.
But “Other Things” was always intended to be a trilogy, and it was somewhat curious when most of 2014 passed with no mention of the final piece of the puzzle. Now we know that it was with good reason – the production values present on “The End of Everything” dwarf anything else he’s been involved with. The mastering is still curated by the careful hand of Luke Martin, who also provides piano work that has become a staple of Plini’s EPs, but nearly everything else has been beefed up considerably. Drums are handled by jazz fusion master Marco Minneman, who is known for his work with The Aristocrats and Steven Wilson, as well as the legendary Joe Satriani. They’re complex, hypnotizing, and ease you into the music much farther than simple drum programming ever could. For the first time, real bass guitar is also provided by the less famous but equally talented Simon Grove, from fellow Aussie prog band The Helix Nebula. And Plini hasn’t shied away from guest solos in the past, but the ones here are particularly prestigious – Chris Letchford and Jakub Zytecki both bring their respective punches to the tracks they’ve been tasked with, with predictably perfect results.
Musically, the structure of “The End of Everything” calls back to the three-song pacing of the original “Other Things”, but the songs here serve as a true climax instead of a calm commencement. While the previous EPs had openings that were deliberate and peaceful, the title track here explodes into being before carefully dialing itself back to a sound that more closely fits the preceding material, but made infinitely livelier by Minneman’s outstanding drum work. “Wombat Astronaut” is driven by Martin’s piano just as much as Plini’s groovy shredding, and it really turns what would have otherwise been a standard Plini track into something really special. And “Paper Moon”, a song that ties together many of the recurring musical themes present in the cycle, is the first real appearance of the progressive metal-influenced sound that is characteristic of Plini’s singles, but keeps the jazzy approach while adding just enough aggression (contextually speaking that is; nothing here is going to make you mistake this for anything other than what it is). The song is brilliant throughout, but particularly shines when its quieter middle section and epic solo gives way into the most intense moment of the cycle.
Overall, it’s amazing that a man can sit in his bedroom with his instruments and produce something as cohesive, unique, and professionally produced as “The End of Everything”. It’s empowering to think that the easier it becomes to produce a decent sounding record, the more that talented musicians rise up to give us truly inspired music. Something tells me that the genius of Plini would have found a way to escape even if he was working with the world of 20 years ago, but it sure as hell doesn’t hurt that he’s got the technology to bring together some of the most impressive musicians in the genre and produce a short-but-sweet serving of jazz fusion-influenced progressive metal.