Guitar-based instrumental music seems to be enjoying a period of popularity right now.
Surfing With the Alien is still the benchmark for this type of thing, almost thirty years after release, and Plini’s latest certainly exhibits some of the feel and character of Satriani’s work. There is still plenty of distance yet to cover however before he can really begin to ascend to that kind of level.
‘Cascades’ is far and away the standout track on this album, bursting with tasty licks and a multitude of solos and seriously heavy passages with rumbling double kicks. ‘Inhale’ has a moment or two as does ‘Pastures’, the other more expansive track here as it rises and falls and then builds to a crescendo of heavy riffing and extensive soloing. Plini’s playing is fluid and he knows not to overplay. His compositions show a keen sense of space that he doesn’t try to fill up with every note possible. The weakness of Handmade Cities is that too many of the tracks fall into a pattern of gentle, lilting guitar/synth opening that explodes into a metal-edged change up around the 1:20 – 1:40 mark before subsiding again, and there simply aren’t enough hooks to make this very memorable – it was difficult to remember the other tracks as more than snatches of riffs here and there, a tasty lick or a smooth solo.
‘Cascades’, however, is such a strong track that it almost makes up for the album’s other shortcomings, a very solid example of Plini’s clear ability and one that should provide a very firm foundation for future endeavours.
1. Electric Sunrise
2. Handmade Cities
4. Every Piece Matters
6. Here We Are, Again