steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion

Plants and Animals

Self-titled CDEP


Genres: instrumental folk, instrumental rock

Nov 29 - Dec 5 2004

Every time I sit down to review a disc I know nothing about, I always tell myself: "I HOPE THIS ISN'T ANOTHER BLOODY INSTRUMENTAL ALBUM."  And roughly 75% of the time, it is.  So I give it a quick listen, jot down my opinions, and then throw it in the pile of CDs I never intend to come back to.  I don't know if it's some sort of indie rock vocal shyness or what, but a terribly large portion of independent music is devoid of vocals - a surprising trend, seeing as instrumental music is extremely hard to do well (and nearly impossible to make generally appealing.)

Which brings us to the present story.  The time came (or rather, the time was well overdue) for Plants and Animals' intriguingly designed EP to be reviewed, and I placed it in my CD player without any real expectations.  I was prepared for indie pop or electronica, to tell the truth.  But it only took the opening track's fourteen minute duration to realize what I had actually stumbled upon - INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC!!!!  NO!!!

My weekend, quite simply, was ruined.

That was, until I took a closer look.  Instead of playing your standard instrumental pop/rock, Plants and Animals are more of a folk group - in the tradition of John Fahey and Steffen Basho-Junghans, this three piece plays predominantly acoustic folk, driven by rolling guitars and skilled plucking.  However, P&A's music is more accessible than is often encountered in the genre.  "Boyfriends and Girlfriends," though lengthy, is surprisingly infectious; "Jacques: The New St. Henri Hi-Step," meanwhile, is given a fresh sound by way of a percussion-heavy climax.  Even the quiet finale (whose title is too long to type out here) is accessibly endearing, in a low-key, pretty way - its climax is a bit weak, however.

If all instrumental albums were like this, they'd be a little more excusable.  Though Plants and Animals' EP will require a fair amount of patience to the unassimilated listener, it should make for a surprisingly strong moodpiece.


Matt Shimmer

[Vitals: 5 tracks, distributed by the band, released 2004]