Handmade Cities review by Plini

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  • Released: Aug 26, 2016
  • Sound: 8
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.8 (25 votes)
Plini: Handmade Cities

Sound — 8
The niche but burgeoning DIY prog metal scene can be analogized as the '80s shred guitar scene for an artsy new generation, and when one takes a look at the fresh-faced guitarists integral to the skillful scene - whether Aaron Marshall of Intervals, Ben Sharp of Cloudkicker, or Martin Andres of Pomegranate Tiger - it's not a far-fetched observation to make. Hailing from Australia, Plini has been growing bigger and bigger in that scene lately, where his early activity of the occasional, guitar-centric single solely constructed by himself has heightened into bigger EP releases exploring more sonic features and including contributions from other up-and-coming musicians both domestic and international (though he makes sure to state that everything is still mixed in his humble bedroom in Sydney).

With those previous three EPs over the course of a couple years being an intermittent-spanning series showing Plini's effort to release music in more substantial quantities, it comes as little surprise that his newest offering, "Handmade Cities," finally reaches for LP status. As expected, Plini's guitar acrobatics dazzle at several points, whether heard in the constant tapping riffs in the opening "Electric Sunrise," the tricky djent/prog metal riffs that are amply layered in the final "Cascade," the gentler but precise soloing in "Every Piece Matters," the fusion jazz torch-carrying melody of the eponymous song, or the peak shredding performance unleashed in "Pastures."

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While those displays are anchored on Plini's original appeal as an astounding guitarist, his songwriting in "Handmade Cities" aims to achieve more than that. Along with collaborating bassist Simon Grove (the bassist for The Helix Nebula, who also provided bass performances on Plini's previous EP "The End of Everything") showing off impressively in the earlier moments of "Pastures," and drummer Troy Wright teeming with energy in "Inhale," Plini's arrangements spread out more from the djent/prog metal style. While the penultimate "Here We Are, Again" is the most upfront offering that's different (banking mostly on string arrangements for a short cut of orchestral aspirations), Plini's electronica influence manifests in the IDM-inspired jittery production value found in "Cascade," "Here We Are, Again," and the eponymous song.

Lyrics — 8
[There are no lyrics in this album.]

Overall Impression — 8
With Plini's self-made catalog of music growing in small increments for the past few years, "Handmade Cities" is a milestone release for the young DIY musician that has been a long time coming. Still rooted at Plini's core of guitar showmanship, "Handmade Cities" also displays more aspirations of offering different sonic characteristics, gears, and more dynamic songwriting, properly proving that Plini's intrigue as a musician is more than just a bunch of talented guitar performances slapped together.

17 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I have seen him live recently and he is a stellar guitar player. His second guitar player for that night was nobody else than Aaron Marshall from Intervals. Then Intervals played, with Plini as second guitar. And seriously, those 2 guys have to write a entire record together, because they fit together so perfectly and really seemed to enjoy their share stage moment.
    I would love to see Plini and Intervals record a studio album. It would be pretty insane!
    I love this album so much. I don't get why some people say there's too much shredding, the only "shreddy" part IMO is the solo on Pastures and even that has a very nice mysterious Steve Vai-esque feel to it. But my fav track definitely is Cascade. In fact I like it so much I had to learn the solo by ear the first day I heard it Here's my cover if anyones interested (shameless plug):
    IMO his songs have a really good feeling. He has lots of technique but he doesn't do the "emotionless shred" that some people complain about. You can see his skills without any show off and the songs feel just right.
    Seeing him live in December with Animals as Leaders, can't wait
    Just seen them in England, honestly had a constant smile on my face during Plini and Intervals. I've seen Animals as Leaders before and they are insane but Plini and Intervals as a whole live show are, in my opinion, better.
    Seen them in July. Was nuts. Plinintervals was insane, and AAL divine. One of those nights...
    I think Plini has an 'ethereal sound' that pleases me quite much. wasn't exactaly hyped by this debut but I'll check it out later for sure.
    Honestly as much as a great guitarist Plini is I have always felt he is lacking on song writing. I didn't liked the first tracks but from Every Piece Matters till Cascade is good.