Plini
Mirage


2.4
average

Review

by Mitch Worden EMERITUS
December 6th, 2023 | 65 replies


Release Date: 12/01/2023 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Perfect competency.

Credit where credit’s due: Mirage is the most apt title for the latest effort by bedroom-prog-metal-superstar Plini. There’s plenty of action on the surface--seatbelts on please for obligatory noodling and soloing, twinkling guitars that cascade like a gentle mist, sweeping-yet-understated strings coloring the background--yet, on the artist’s eighth proper release, one can’t help but feel that all this motion is a disguise. Subtle waves of ambience cover up an absence of depth; glittering chords and gentle textures are a hollow reference to Trilogy, or back when such things were relatively fresh; and Plini’s guitar wizardry, once a compelling focal point, has morphed into a tribute act to himself. It’s a perfectly adequate prog-metal package for those pursuing the Sithu Aye et. al. crowd--which is precisely the problem. In the wake of the somewhat-faltering Impulse Voices, it seems as if the Australian phenom has become complacent with competency.

The aforementioned dearth of supporting elements is a clear signal that Plini has flipped the autopilot switch; there’s a whole lot of nothing designed to sound like something, and there’s no room for an atmosphere to manifest. “The Red Fox” can only muster a piano intro and some distant ambience, both of which are quickly swallowed up by jazzy soloing that seems to be headed nowhere fast. The problem worsens by the time “Still Life” comes around, at which point the soundscape is devoid of just about everything minus Tosin Abasi’s guest spot, with a series of uplifting string compositions buried underneath aimless funky noodling. Sole emphasis is therefore placed on Plini’s performance on its own when it used to act in cooperation with additional variables. There’s no distinguishable personality to Mirage as a result; it’s a series of unconnected guitar exhibitions sans-hooks buoyed by drowned-out ambience, which is made to sound all the more hollow in a production so polished that it’s disturbingly sterile.

After a decade of roughly the same style, Plini’s once-charismatic, highly-technical style playing is no longer engaging enough to cover up how distressingly empty tracks feel. Instead, focus is drawn to how half-hearted the build-up of “Five Days of Rain” is and how the climax awkwardly dies, decaying into some chugs that laboriously escort the tune away. A listener is practically forced to ignore all else on “Still Life” since there is no ‘all else,’ revealing a vapid guitar playground that progresses nowhere, is indiscernible from peers, and tries to manufacture a payoff by randomly getting louder as if some kind of journey has been completed--only for that finale to be laughably brief a la “Five Days of Rain.” “Aqua Vista” teases variety in the form of a heavier introduction and a heightened strings presence, only for Plini to immediately kill all momentum and slink into their usual repertoire of arbitrary, directionless strumming. Rarely does the guitarist appear to be leading a song somewhere, and if it does manage to get anywhere, it’s without proper development or so short it might as well have been an email.

Without proper songwriting, Mirage crumbles. It lacks the swagger of instrumental prog gangs such as Polyphia, or the structural integrity of Interval’s post-Semesky era, or the spacey, graceful aura that Plini themselves have demonstrated being capable of. It succeeds based upon whether or not their library of solos is sufficient ear candy for a passing audiophile, in which case, it’s possibly the most perfectly competent showcase of the artist’s fretboard wanderings. That kind of competence displayed several times over eventually becomes unavoidably aggravating; it’s fun times to hear some catchy Satriani-esque phrases and melodic swings and whatnot, but it’s the bare minimum in context of much greater works orchestrated by the same musician. Mirage is a dangerously passable affair that sheer talent in a vacuum cannot turn memorable.




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user ratings (56)
3.2
good


Comments:Add a Comment 
MarsKid
Emeritus
December 6th 2023


21035 Comments

Album Rating: 2.4

Welcome to the new Plini. It sounds a lot like Plini. If you enjoy Plini, you will like this!



Bandcamp link: https://plini.bandcamp.com/album/mirage



Also up on Spotify. I got apples from the store and they were spoiled so Apple Music may have had a bad harvest, check again later.



Let me know what y'all think!

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
December 6th 2023


61281 Comments


this site's staff reviewers are bias against all djent f**cking ubelieveable it hurts to see it man

ahrd pos v tight write

MarsKid
Emeritus
December 6th 2023


21035 Comments

Album Rating: 2.4

Thank you kindly! I am sorry for perpetuating the intolerable abuse of djent, I ask now for forgiveness for my transgressions.



Although in fairness this isn't djent, it's just very tiresome and personality-less soloing.

DungeonBoy
December 6th 2023


9836 Comments


Plini is a very talented chap, but I don't even need to press play to know exactly what this will sound like.



zuzek
December 6th 2023


936 Comments


Plini strikes me as a guy that has ran out of stories to tell because they need to be told, and now just forcefully writes words on the page because it's the thing he knows how to do.

MarsKid
Emeritus
December 6th 2023


21035 Comments

Album Rating: 2.4

Dude's capable of much better, but this is the most he's ever settled on something before and it's pretty disappointing to hear.

DungeonBoy
December 6th 2023


9836 Comments


He needs more hooks for me to personally enjoy it, incorporating more reoccurring moments of inspired brilliance like on Electric Sunrise or Paper Moon.

MarsKid
Emeritus
December 6th 2023


21035 Comments

Album Rating: 2.4

No melody or hooks here, it's just soloing lol

clavier
Emeritus
December 6th 2023


1173 Comments


i have to sadly agree with this (very apt review btw), the EP is pretty in the moment but it slips out of my mind immediately afterwards

Vinnymcscoop
December 6th 2023


1672 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

I liked this, but he has better EPs. This shit could have a few more good songs, but what is left isn't really bad. Mirage is kinda shirt after listening to the other tracks on here tbh. Also, what the hell happened to Tosin after recording his solo?!

MarsKid
Emeritus
December 6th 2023


21035 Comments

Album Rating: 2.4

@clavier thank you, I appreciate it! Pretty-but-forgettable is a pretty decent summary.



@Vinny I'm worried more songs would make this much worse, no better. The brevity makes this a fleeting disappointment as opposed to a full-LP misfire.

Vinnymcscoop
December 6th 2023


1672 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Shit, could be a possibility. But it is a rare case that Plini misses, two of the LPs are still masterpieces

MarsKid
Emeritus
December 6th 2023


21035 Comments

Album Rating: 2.4

Oh yeah, he's talented, and I've liked a decent chunk of his work, this just feels like a clear step below in comparison.

Tundra
December 6th 2023


9864 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

probably his worst.. a shame, stagnation is real

SteakByrnes
December 6th 2023


30135 Comments


Feel like I've been falling off the plini train for a while but I should check this out

Vinnymcscoop
December 6th 2023


1672 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Even though this is decent, I do feel like some prog artists are a bit behind this year. The new Intervals single sucks as well

OwMySnauze
December 6th 2023


2540 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Agreed with this, his newer material has gotten more boring with each release. Not as catchy and melodic as before. What a shame.

kalkwiese
December 6th 2023


10489 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I really dig it. Guess I have to let time do it's thing to show the flaws

Vinnymcscoop
December 6th 2023


1672 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

@owmysnauze somewhat true, I still love Circadian,one of the best albums I ever listened to.

nash1311
December 7th 2023


8276 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Mars spitting 📠 I see



This was… uh… pleasant. And that’s about it



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