Album Review: Plini – Handmade Cities

Plini - Handmade Cities

It’s a sentiment I’ve restated whenever speaking of this artist: where technical metal generally intends to appeal to the intellect, Australian guitarist and composer Plini aims straight for the heart and emotional centre of his listeners. It’s this approach that largely separates him from his less distinctive brethren, and over the course of a short, but remarkably consistent career, he has continued to evoke the same rich feelings in me. His newest record, Handmade Cities, expands upon the style beyond what has already been explored on past releases. Plini‘s trademark style remains fresh, engaging, and beautiful in a way most instrumental music isn’t.

Plini‘s sound and style have become unique that many guitarists and composer follow the way he’s traced and enlist him as inspiration. On Handmade Cities, not only is there an atmosphere of optimism and triumph, Plini‘s riffs often depend on climbing and descending patterns. Although they are rarely melodic in the conventional sense, Plini‘s music has an atmosphere that washes over the listener and absolves them of the intellectual challenge generally associated with tech-centric music. This is certainly not to say that the music isn’t intelligent; rather, it is thoughtfully constructed in such a way that the numerous technical solos, riffs and fleeting moments of ambiance are all poised in a single direction, like a river. The jazzy, technical style of John McLaughlin is a readily apparent influence in his sound, and there are even times when the band’s penchant for multi-layered arrangements reminds me of Animals as Leaders. Although there are occasional moments of quasi-djenty “chugging,” and displays of technical wizardry aplenty, Plini‘s tasteful restraint when it comes to the compositions gives his music a mellow impression in spite of the band’s more conventionally “metal” elements. This approach has been with him since the beginning, but Handmade Cities goes further and adds something more striking to the formula. Most times, failing to develop one’s sound with each album would leave the music feeling tired, but Plini and his band, comprised of bassist Simon Grove and drummer Troy Wright, seem to have found their proper calling early on and never looked back since.


Handmade Cities lays its three proudest eggs all at the start — “Electric Sunrise,” “Handmade Cities” and “Inhale” are the most impressive cuts the album has to offer, and some of the most beautiful pieces Plini has constructed to date. The opening “Electric Sunrise” in particular has an introduction that emphasizes the trio’s marriage of technicality and emotion perfectly. Precise and calculated finger-tapping has long been one of Plini‘s signature tools, and to hear the technique used for such melodic beauty is a very rare listening experience. The rest of the album maintains a relative par with regards to technicality and thoughtful arrangements. “Every Piece Matters” is an identity on its own; a beautiful and awe-inspiring piece that matters. A lot.

Barring its stunning artwork (which might just be my favourite album artwork of the year so far), Handmade Cities is another innovative release for the guitarist who keeps pushing the envelope further, but walks closely in the footsteps of the its predecessors.

Handmade Cities is available now from Bandcamp.


1. Electric Sunrise
2. Handmade Cities
3. Inhale
4. Every Piece Matters
5. Pastures
6. Here We Are, Again
7. Cascade


* Troy Wright – drums
* Simon Grove – bass
* Plini – guitars & everything else






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