Plank! - Animalism
Arguably one of Manchester's most exciting outfits today, three-piece Plank! are finally due to release debut album Animalism through label Akoustik Anarkhy. Feauturing reworkings of previously released tracks Pig Sick and La Luna Animalism is an album of ardent progression and varying structure and equally a sense of wavering emotion and feeling. As well as accommodating the band's own avant-garde reworks, brand new tracks Moolicks and King Rat exhaust the 10 minute mark with bold experimentations of time signature and genre.
But despite any ambivalence within the album, every track stands its ground with the same unyielding, heavy-duty intensity than its predecessor and an 11/8 time signature doesn't make this record any less within reach as might be expected. The band explore Kraut, prog and electronic elements providing an overall sense of largeness in terms of sound and force.
However, Animalism is not just an album that stampedes mindlessly through its given space, it is skilfully crafted and its experiments in time signature and instrumental identity that may appear explosive and wild are in fact subtly controlled. 'Animalism' has personality and wit, from bullish opener 'Dying for Pigs' with its jagged, gnarly riff to possible signature track 'La Luna' with its heavy synth involvement and neo-classic melody and bass line. 'Pig Sick' introduces a characteristic looped guitar line which fits so seamlessly within the sound and personality of the album it almost seems typical to the point of vintage. Animalism sounds nothing like a debut album, rather the avant-rock experiments of a long-lived rock band.
'Alpha Dog' indicated a shift in mood and possible turning point within the album slowing the tempo and confining the space in which the guitars can stretch. This track could be overlooked upon first listen but a withdrawal of the standard riffs and bass lines leaves room for exploration and this is where I get excited. Vast spaces are left empty and dark, free from the muscle of guitars and the synths begin to seep in. Like timid deep-sea creatures, these luminous sounds edge their way into sight allured by the deep bass, intertwining and interweaving, dancing and writhing until the once dark space is brimming with the technicolour of translucent, bustling sound. The beauty of this is subtle yet outstanding and absolutely worth the wait.
After the synths have settled and the bloom of 'Alpha Dog' has faded out, 'Self Harm' snaps us back to reality although with the remnants of the past synth development in the form of stretched electro organ chords. This track vigorously reinforces the now overriding message that the complexity and experimentation of sound can produce luxury and splendour, beauty and intricacy.
The album ends with 'Moolicks', a hazy and psychedelic fusing and echoing of all that has come to pass as we have travelled along with the album. A real settling and blissful disorientation can be found in the closing minute of the album and if nu-Kraut really is coming back after the re-emergence of Can in the form of The Lost Tapes last month, then Animalism is a great album to go to for inspiration.