Work on Mirage began shortly after Plini’s acclaimed second album, Impulse Voices (2020).
Has it been worth the wait?
The guitar virtuoso stays modern and relevant while revealing some potent and particular influences from the rich and evocative musical past, tapping into something special.
There’s Prog, Djent and Jazz in the mix as this superior, five-track collection again showcases the audacious Aussie’s sheer instrumental class, his melodic and mellifluous playing the key part of a vital, versatile whole.
It flies above the solid foundation of a spot-on rhythm section (long-time collaborators Simon Grove on bass and Chris Allison on drums), as well as piano and strings, adding to the moody atmospherics and the all-round technical excellence.
“The Red Fox” opens like the sunrise, rhapsodically – upbeat, heads up, looking to the horizon, seemingly giving voice to an inner adventure. A meandering bass and a jazzy mini-interlude take things further before the geetars crash back in and we’re away, off and running.
As the first song marches onward and upward towards a dramatic conclusion, already this record is achieving and delivering a captivating sound, as you would expect from the talented, celebrated and entirely self-taught son of Sydney.
There is more beautiful, dexterous playing and picking on the subtle and soothing, then rocking and soaring “Five Days Of Rain,” piano also contributing so much, and on “Aqua Vista”, probably the track that most obviously reveals the oft-quoted “vocal” influence of the one and only Joe Satriani.
A real highlight, though, is surely “Still Life,” a soundscape that fills the mind’s eye with cinematic cityscapes as well as rolling landscapes, the bass keeping everything grounded. At times crunchy and propulsive, “Still Life” also features a solo by Plini’s fellow guitar virtuoso Tosin Abasi (Animals As Leaders) and contains throughout some beautifully clean, crisp licks and phrases, expert and elegant.
Closing track “Ember” keeps the heat on high, another showcase for a wonderful musician with a sense of drama and a real vision, and a practised, intelligent composer capable of taking us smoothly through the various sections of the song, while throwing in unexpected moments and aural surprises – a bluesy section, a prog rock work-out, “handclaps” and dissonant, dislocating “percussion.” In the end, the guitar.
Delayed by lockdowns, other commitments, collaborations and extensive touring, Mirage is here and now and is, all in all, a real treat.
Buy the album here:
8 / 10