Few musical acts are as joyous and endearing as Plone. I first discovered them via their debut album, 1999’s For Beginner Piano, back when I had just discovered the Warp catalogue and was furiously buying up everything I could find on the label thanks to the forward thinking redefinition of what music could be via Squarepusher and Aphex Twin et al. Plone always felt like an outlier to the rest of the catalogue, Autechre were too austere, Boards of Canada were too much into their own trip, Plaid were similarly fun loving, but Plone felt more innocent – almost childlike. There was something beautifully earnest in their music, something ridiculously bouncy and positively unencumbered by adult life.
So here they are some 20 years later and you’d have to expect that they’ve grown up now, developed medical conditions, accumulated divorces, struggled through financial issues and addictions, except well, no. This is a follow up to For Beginner Piano and its very much as wide eyed optimistic and joyous as its predecessor. Surprisingly the intervening years haven’t slowed them down at all, they’re as bright eyed as they’ve ever been, which is a good thing because if there’s anything we need right now its optimism.
It was apparently partly recorded at the time and again more recently as band members splintered off into various directions, and the three piece became a duo.
This music is the opposite of cynical; sweet electronic constructions that at one moment sound like soundtracks to educational films for children, Ennio Morricone at his most melancholic, or club music for pre schoolers. While it feels very much like For Beginner Piano, there’s also a broadening of their scope, and a real (potentially red cordial infused) desire to progress the songs into new directions. This is Plone’s genius, they can create these beautiful earnest heartfelt sounds, but there’s so much more underlying their approach. Songs repeatedly move and evolve in novel and increasingly quirky ways. You get the sense that returning to this project has provided them with the opportunity to be playful and fun loving, to tap back into their inner child. I know it has for me.