Plini’s EP, Mirage, offers some respite from the dreariness of winter with its sparkling strings, uplifting tones and emotive guitar leads.

Release date: December 1, 2023 | Independent | Bandcamp | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Mirage, Plini’s newest long form release of material since 2020’s Impulse Voices, is full of comfort and coziness. From the opening piano keys of “The Red Fox”, I knew I was in for a little treat from the Australian guitarist. Ethereal melodies, vibrant strings, and a warm bass tone are layered around the jazzed-up progressive metal guitar leads, creating a wonderful ebb and flow between ambience and the blistering, yet wonky solos that Plini has made his pennant.

While there is a lot of what you can expect from Plini, Mirage has its moments of innovation. The guitarist does more exploring of heavier tones which leads to more darkness than I would usually expect from a Plini release. There’s still plenty of positivity in his technical and whimsical playing style; but there is also plenty of weirdness and surrealism brought about by the heaviness of this EP. Plini is amongst some of the originators of a wave of one-man instrumental bands playing with the Djent formula but adding his own guitar virtuosity to it. It was across the Trilogy EPs (Other Things, Sweet Nothings, and The End of Everything) that Plini really showcased the fundamentals of his sound; emotive, melody-forward songs with moments of mind bending technicality.

There’s all of that in bucket loads on Mirage. Plini showcases that he has further developed his ear for splendid, uplifting melodies and emotive musical intonation across these five new songs, and each has their own unique sound that is explored. I think this EP in particular shows that Plini is still expanding upon his songwriting abilities and continues to see what sort of emotions he can evoke through his communicative playing style.

In particular, the song “Still Life”, featuring Tosin Abasi (Animals As Leaders), does a really great job of melding together the two guitarists’ styles while creating a darker soundscape than we are used to for Plini. We are treated to some heavier tones than we are used to from the guitarist which is a welcome treat. Additionally, he includes some oud (an instrument he decided to pick up during lockdown) sections across the song, mimicking the playing on his guitar.

Recent Plini releases haven’t caught my attention quite like Mirage. I found Handmade Cities and Impulse Voices to run a bit too long for this style of music. It signals to me that Plini is at his best when he showcases his music in an EP format; taking time to flesh out his ideas in each song, while not adding too much filler material to pad out the release.

Even with how much I enjoyed Mirage, I’m doubtful whether this will significantly increase the amount of new fans Plini gains. If you weren’t really onboard this particular instrumental guitar driven train already then you likely won’t be converted. However, maybe if you find yourself, like me, about to head out on a cold morning with your dog, throw on Mirage. See if it doesn’t warm your dark soul, brighten your day, or rid you of some of that SAD, if even for a moment.

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