Terrapath is some of the most adventurous progressive rock you could listen to and Plantoid expertly, smartly keep things on the rails to provide a guided tour of their world.

Release date: February 2, 2024 | Bella Union | Instagram | Bandcamp

I love having a vision of a band and their music in my head without knowing of its or their intentions, then looking them up and having everything eerily confirmed as if someone seeped clairvoyance into my ear at night while I slept – very weird, very specific proggy clairvoyance. UK’s Plantoid struck me as a band that basked in the fantastic. Just going off of their music and the album cover for Terrapath was enough to give me that notion, that they were special even in a sea of progressive, jazzed-up rock bands with an adventurous soul.

For nearly 40 minutes, Terrapath does a lot of heavy lifting to make you feel not at home. You’re somewhere else where nature melds inorganically with a synthetic foil, like thick vines running up the spine of a metal building that has only just encroached on a kingdom of flora years prior. It would be considered an invasion in any other context, but nature simply reclaims what it can and gets batted and cut back when it overreaches. It’s the same kind of concept you may know from a Metroid game in how hostile planets that contain multitudes on their own are made to host jutting, steely, sci-fi structures that dig deep into the world’s flesh housing an even bigger alien threat you have to contend with.

The difference is with Plantoid, you don’t feel unwelcomed – there’s a ton of atmosphere and elegance to their music that reach out to you in a friendly way, even if it’s still a little alien and unknowable. Just look at the cover of the album – it’s different, maybe menacing to some, but you’re still curious, right? You want to trace your fingers along its legs to see if they react organically or feel cold and stiff to the touch. Can you enter it? Can you communicate with it?

This inquisitiveness is even played with a bit in a meta way by the band with a song titled “Wander/Wonder” which is stacked with musical passages ranging from ’70s psych-prog to plucky jazz rock, indicative of the music’s intention of fusing at least two disparate worlds together. Each song was recorded live and you can hear that in the organics and togetherness of the instrumentation too. “Dog’s Life” has a synthetic edge with the whirs of mechanical movement and more tense guitar playing than most other songs on Terrapath. It’s not even a full four minutes long and it alone feels like a full-fledged journey when you factor in all the places it goes sonically.

Though there’s more energetic fare to relinquish yourself to like “Pressure” and “G.Y. Drift”, and they certainly play their own role in the story well, it’s when the atmosphere is lighter and more delicate that I find myself absolutely enraptured. “It’s Not Real” is an instrumental interlude with some more psychedelic flair – you can hear fainted whispers in the back like they’re talking about you – but the harmonious qualities of the guitar and warbling hum of the synths are comforting like you’re in your own human-sized terrarium lit by a cloud-covered sun. “Only When I’m Thinking” is similarly gentle, reminding me of a Vesper Sails track with its proggy proclivities, but mild execution. I’m hypnotized by the snare taps on the drums that sound like raindrops hitting a window rhythmically. The vocals do a lot to provide a guiding light no matter where the instrumentation goes, and they’re always complementary to what’s going on.

It’s tough for me to not oversell just how phenomenally Plantoid work with escapism prog without getting caught up in the complication of it all, decorating it with jazzy embroidery for a complete package that practically transports you to a whole new place. One minute smacks of old school stylings that you grew up listening to, the next a futurist solo section that’s anachronistic for the time we’re in without getting too weird. The familiarity always grounds the music even if the piece overall seems intent on sending you lightyears away where beings don’t even know your species let alone your name.

To mitigate risk of me repeating myself, I’ll simply say that you must listen to Plantoid. This is a band for me that I went from knowing nothing about, hitting play, then wanting to know everything about in a bid to learn how a band as young as this can make music that sounds like it was made by industry veterans with decades of writing and improv experience behind their respective instruments. If you have the ear for this style of progressive rock, I can’t imagine you not being blown away by it like I was, perhaps devouring it loop after loop for weeks after release, it proving to be a formidable companion through a myriad of moods and events in a busy month. Terrapath is remarkably entertaining and stokes a whimsy that hasn’t been rustled awake in me for quite a while.

David Rodriguez

David Rodriguez

"I came up and so could you, and fuck the boys in blue" - RMR

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