Every time I sit down to write a post I end up spending hours deep in thought until I run out of steam and give up. To avoid this trap, I’ll start posting on the topic I know best: music.
I’m striving to make these posts as accessible as possible, but these will be inevitably geared towards music enthusiasts. I’ll start by sharing some uplifting music by Plini, and offering a mini-review. Here are the three tracks comprising his EP “Other Things.” If just want one song, choose the second one.
Some songs are just immortal; they feel familiar the first time you hear them. These melodies feel like they’ve always been there, and that a person couldn’t have authored something so essential. Plini is a master of writing immortal music. Everyone I’ve showed Plini to initially reacts with something like “Oh yeah, yeah I’ve heard this. It’s in a movie maybe? Where do I know this from?” The answer, astoundingly, is “You’ve never heard it before.” Listen to the whole EP if you’re interested, and I’m sure you’ll see what I mean.
The real magic of Plini’s music is how tasteful it is. The myriad layers of his music are intricate like the flavors in a gourmet dish, and like a masterful chef, he fine tunes each and every ingredient so there’s just enough, never too much, and it always complements the other ingredients. As a theoretician I find his work complex but cohesive, and as a listener I find it sublime.
One domain in which he nails this is rhythm. Plini is one of the few artists I know of who manages to make bizarre time signatures feel relatable. Others include Dave Brubeck, and the authors of the Mission Impossible theme (it’s in 5/4 but we all know it by heart!). Even fewer artists (Vijay Iyer, Avishai Cohen, and Intronaut being notable exceptions) employ phrases of unusual length which deviate by single 16th or even 32nd notes. Plini is perhaps singular in making such rhythmically diverse and precise music feel good before it feels interesting. Case in point, the second link above is in 15/4, full of 16th note syncopation, yet experientially, it feels uplifting and refreshing like a breath of fresh air. The first link, perhaps his catchiest moment, the one people always seem to recognize, opens in 5/8 time!
The other place Plini’s chef-like artistry strikes me most is in timbre and tone colors. He paints a portrait of a fantasy realm (see album artwork) with layered strings, sax, flutes, mallet instruments, fairy-like synths, and even his own voice at times. Listeners will enjoy the creative combinations of sundry synthetic percussions, and my fellow metalheads will be pleasantly surprised by clean tone, lack of verbose shredding, and notable codominance of the acoustic piano. Guitarists will of course appreciate the complete range of sounds of acoustic and electric guitars, especially rhythmic and almost percussive use of harmonics and tapping, as well as palm muting and careful picking dynamics to create dramatic changes in volume. Most importantly, it’s not the mere abundance of tone colors that I enjoy, but their delicate, careful orchestration. Out of these countless layers and sounds emerges a cohesive percept that embraces the listener rather than overwhelming them. Despite the often dense instrumentation and music theory, I’m often struck by how sparse and spacious his work can feel.
Richness, combined with an artist’s sense of taste and balance, evoke in the listener a complex of emotions. Given the intricacy of his work, and the nuanced and powerful combinations of emotions which come with it, Plini makes it as accessible as possible for the broadest audience possible. And such emotions, while at times painfully nostalgic, are generally so splendid I often find myself on the verge of tears of joy.
If you made it this far, I sincerely hope you’ve gleaned from this what I find so appealing about Plini. He inspires me to seek an artist’s elegance in everything I do, and his music has taught me about life concepts like balance. I think that’s enough for one post, so with that I’ll leave you to enjoy the music.