Review Summary: A tapestry of adventure, woven with great care.
I could start off by saying that Plini is a successful bedroom musician from Sydney, Australia who plays a brand of instrumental, jazz-tinged progressive metal. What does he do? Well, he puts together seemingly disjointed lines and molds them into an integrated whole. The drums might follow an odd rhythm, the guitars will fly through arpeggios, you may even hear the occasional embellishments of piano and strings. The production is airy, with an acceptably large dynamic range. Plini’s virtuosity is undeniable as he effortlessly plays through complex runs. This is all true, if in a strict, technical sense.
Sweet Nothings deserves another lens of perspective. For instance, “Opening” is the beguiling siren that beckons adventurers into the ebb and flow; this relatively reserved track is crafted discerningly, a choral harmony near the end promising grander things to come. Meanwhile, the experience evoked by “Tarred & Feathered” is not unlike sailing the high seas. The leading acoustic guitar propels itself on unpredictable waves, the climbing strings herald the joyous excitement of the voyage. “Sweet Nothings”, the dignified title track, closes out the album on a jubilant, resounding note.
“Away”, however, disconnects from the fantastical landscape painted by the two tracks that precede it. It serves to showcase Plini’s ability to compose something intricate, yet it lacks the soaring emotional heights reached by its peers. In short, the track appeals to the brain but not to the heart.
When compared to the other releases of the EP trilogy, Sweet Nothings is a tad more seductive and sinuous in its approach - it lulls, it sways, and “Tarred & Feathered” even feels danceable at times. Other Things begins as relaxed, then brings in the heavy-hitting “Selenium Forest”; The End of Everything is uniformly expansive.
I have always found it remarkable how consistently uplifting Plini’s music is. The cynic in me sneers upon any signs of optimism; positive emotions in music tend to get the “cheesy” label rudely slapped on. Perhaps it’s evidence of Plini’s clever, measured workmanship that he can bypass that internal assembly line. The non-linear nature of his melodies, arguably a jazz-influenced product, means that they can never really be described as simple or childish. Moreover, listening to Sweet Nothings awakens the part in me that took comfort in the escapism of fantasy novels, in heroic triumph over adversary. Indeed, I could even compare Plini’s songwriting to the world-building found in the best works of fiction; he carefully crafts a new land, and with every subtle addition of an element, enriches it.
It’s all the more impressive that he can create so much within the span of Sweet Nothing’s 17-minute runtime. In those precious moments, I have been whisked away into the realms of imagination. Plini brings into existence the music, but it’s up to you to explore it.