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Australian Guitarist-Composer Plini Talks Success of New Album ‘Impulse Voices’

The prog/modern rock and metal artist infuses more jazz as well on the millions-streamed eight-track record

Anurag Tagat Jan 06, 2021

Sydney-based guitarist and composer Plini. Photo: Chad Dao

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In February of 2020, Sydney-based Plini Roessler-Holgate was just about gearing up to record what would become his latest album Impulse Voices (released in November) and his deadline was set by a rather particular occurrence: getting the merch and album shipped out to fans before Christmas that year. “I said to the guys who make my merch, ‘All right, lock it in and we’ll just work backwards from there.’ It was plenty of time,” Plini says over a Zoom call from Sydney.

For most people quarantining at home, last year arguably felt like time had been stretched. For Plini, the album process was extended as much as possible, joined by bassist Simon Grove (who co-produced and mixed the eight-track album), drummer Chris Allison and more guests, including Indian prog band Skyharbor’s guitarist-producer Devesh Dayal. Plini says of Dayal, “He understands the intention of my music really well, but also is a really creative producer.”

Impulse Voices hit two million streams on Spotify within two weeks of its release, which is certainly something for Plini’s distinct offering of mostly-instrumental jazz-informed modern prog. Oddly enough, the artist says he does often find it challenging to make instrumental music that’s “interesting.” Which is why he stuck to writing just eight tracks; no more, no less. “I think anything less would be sort of underwhelming or it would just be like putting off making an album. [And] I couldn’t have written another song without being somehow derivative of one of the others. It’s like filling a glass to the top instead of having all this water and then fetching it a glass from it,” he says.

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A clue about what drove the creation process this time around is in the title Impulse Voices, which Plini picked up while listening to a podcast. Likening an impulse voice to one that resides in the mind of a child, Plini recalls how he found out that as we get older (“with rules, adults and serious stuff”), the impulse voice within us becomes quieter. “I think the point of the person in the podcast was the same as what I think – it’s important to keep that childlike voice alive. At least on the side of your adult, serious voice. And I think that especially with music. I guess you could become more serious and start thinking about it as a business and all this sort of thing. But what’s fun for me is to try and keep making music like it was when I started, which is just fucking around and seeing what happens,” he says with a smile.

Aided by the likes drummer Allison and Grove – both dexterous musicians who have been part of Plini’s team on the road and in the studio for years – the album brings together radiant, calculated prog (the title track, “I’ll Tell You Someday”) but also more jazz elements on songs like “Last Call” and “Ona/1154.” Particularly with “Ona/1154,” Plini mentions how it took its name from some serious potent coffee at an establishment called Ona, following which Allison reportedly nailed all his takes in one sitting. “Chris is like an insanely good jazz drummer. And so he kind of went more like pushed it even further and like improvised sort of feel,” Plini says. With footing in jazz music technique more than Plini, bassist Grove and guest keyboardist Dave Mackay added much more improvisation. “So it sort of helped me fake knowing what I’m doing in that scenario,” Plini says.

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While Plini did start out as a studio-only project that he eventually figured out how to take live, Impulse Voices was something that was written before the artist fully realized he wouldn’t be taking these songs to stage anytime soon. “It still has that the energy of something that should be played live, so hopefully, it will be, soon enough,” he says. Navigating the present times, Plini’s going to write more music and keep his hopes up about touring eventually, including coming to India, where he’s toured in 2018 and 2019. “India has especially always been like one of the fucking sick places to play. So hopefully it happens soon,” he says.

Stream ‘Impulse Voices’ below on Spotify. Listen on more platforms here.

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