Plini
Sunhead


4.0
excellent

Review

by Clifgard USER (12 Reviews)
July 28th, 2018 | 28 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: First, skill. But above all, musicality.

Instrumental progressive metal is a very recent discovery for me - a byproduct of unintentionally falling into the black hole of Youtube searching for upbeat-but-non-distracting music to study to (seeing as how I haven't studied in seven years; I needed something to assist in the motivation of actually cracking open a textbook). Turns out, I ran across a number of albums that immediately became more than background noise to me - they were truly wonderful musical experiences that astounded me. But where some reach staggering technical heights, precious few artists consistently craft approachable and creative albums that nonetheless refuse to betray the rigorous discipline and massive knowledge base that good progressive metal draws from.

Of those artists, Plini is at or near the top.

I got into Handmade Cities in a huge way the first time I listened to it, immediately purchasing it and keeping it frequent rotation everywhere from the couch to my office and everywhere between. Fans of that beautiful audio journey will be happy to know that Sunhead is a shorter but equally satisfying follow-up, and shows an advancement in Plini's craft that futher causes it to completely defy genre nomenclature.

At only four tracks and twenty minutes in length, Sunhead technically classifies as an extended play - but it's a far more complete an album than many so-called "full-length" projects acheive. The album wastes zero time - unpacking all the subtlety and musical genius here requires multiple spins, and there's not a moment where Plini become lazy. Every song is immaculately constructed from start to finish, with each song forging its own identity: each contains recognizable motifs constantly modulated in interesting ways and accompanied by some truly impressive lead guitar work from Plini himself. It's all underpinned by an equally talented rhythm section that practices a modicum of restraint, saving the controlled chaos that is asymmetrical rhythm for moments when it adds to musical nature of the whole, rather than subtracts from it. When Plini's signature jazz-metal fusion threatens to become repetitous or gratiutous, "Salt + Charcoal" throws in layered background vocals to add a unique and breathy texture to the mix, and "Flaneur" even introduces a captivatingly groovy synth keyboard solo and saxophone solo halfway through the track before returning later to those same organic-sounding instruments for a straight-played smooth-jazz epilogue. The title track finishes things off in spectacular fashion with consistently refreshing takes on the same jazz riff. The worst that can be said about Sunhead is that the opener, "Kind," is only about as good as anything from Handmade Cities, whereas the other three tracks are even better. Hardly criticism.

But it is a very short album, and that can't be dismissed - ten more minutes of Sunhead would have transformed it from a great album into a masterwork. As it stands, it's all over just too quickly. With that said, Plini made it clear that they aimed to create a dense and tight shortform album - they absolutely succeeded, and if you need twenty more minutes of progressive metal in your life, Plini have provided some of the very best. It's no wonder Sunhead leaves off the "EP" moniker - if twenty-minute albums were always this good, most forty-minute projects would seem positively overstuffed by comparison. Sunhead is a truly impressive (and impressively approachable) work of art.



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user ratings (102)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
clavier
Staff Reviewer
July 28th 2018


956 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

nice review - have you gotten a chance to listen to Plini's EP trilogy? as someone who discovered him through that, I find this EP to be a bit stale because it never quite reaches the trilogy's heights - still very good, of course, but a plateau of sorts

Digging: for your health/Shin Guard - Death of Spring

OwMySnauze
July 28th 2018


1985 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This jams. I prefer this jazzy stuff over the trilogy

Digging: AnimalJam - AnimalJam

TundraL5Z
July 28th 2018


2864 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"nice review - have you gotten a chance to listen to Plini's EP trilogy? as someone who discovered him through that, I find this EP to be a bit stale because it never quite reaches the trilogy's heights - still very good, of course, but a plateau of sorts" [2]

Gotta agree with this, doesn't quite hit the incredible moments such as the end of "Paper Moon", although there are hints of it, such as the second half of "Kind", i guess if Plini wasn't accessible enough (i personally think his previous albums where already very accessible), this is his most accessible one so far, and a very easy and enjoyable listen, from start to finish. I agree that if this was 6 tracks long or even 5 tracks long, it would fair a lot better, similar dilemma here to what happened with Sonder by TesseracT

Henderson
July 28th 2018


98 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I think it's the opposite, this is probably his least accessible album/EP so far. The vibe he's going for here is totally different from the trilogy.

I personally have loved everything he's done so far, but his more mellow jazzier stuff like this EP (or Sweet Nothings) has always felt a bit more engaging to me than his more metal songs. This is quickly becoming my favourite Plini album along with Sweet Nothings (which has been my favourite from day one).

Digging: Elder (USA-MA) - The Gold & Silver Sessions

Meridiu5
July 28th 2018


2478 Comments


SWAG new plini

Digging: Nathanael Larochette - Earth And Sky

dctarga
July 28th 2018


1617 Comments


Oh snaps, gotta check

HarryBoBerry
July 28th 2018


611 Comments


This is much better than Handmade Cities

Piglet
July 28th 2018


7860 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

JAMS

Get Low
July 28th 2018


5823 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

4/5, just like all of his other stuff.

clavier
Staff Reviewer
July 28th 2018


956 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Considering Tarred & Feathered is my favourite Plini song I'm not sure where I fall on the jazz to metal spectrum haha

bigweinerdon
July 31st 2018


112 Comments


His best stuff to date.

Veldin
July 31st 2018


3863 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great, a new Plini album for the remainder of the summer. "Kind" is so damn good

zuzek
August 2nd 2018


823 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Plini at both his best and his most confused.

jmh886
August 9th 2018


2375 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

snooze fest

TundraL5Z
August 30th 2018


2864 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Definitely doesn't make my list for the end of the year, just gonna leave it there

ChaoticVortex
September 7th 2018


804 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Love the jazzy vibes on this release. Plini finding new ways to diversify his sound is great.

TundraL5Z
October 10th 2018


2864 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This was so disappointing compared to his other released, ugh

Beardog
October 23rd 2018


2796 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The jazz fusion shown here is really nice, might be one of my favourite releases of his. This guy is just so consistent it's insane

kalkwiese
October 23rd 2018


3680 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Will check this, the EP triology is amazing

Henderson
October 23rd 2018


98 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Do it. It is different, but every bit as good as the best stuff on the trilogy IMO. Still jam this often, it will definitely end up as one of my top releases this year.



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