Plank – Animalism (2012)

Plank are a difficult band to talk about. In the nicest way possible, they’re a bit all over the place. Ostensibly they are a prog-metal-krautrock mash up crew with a soundtrack composers ear for imagery. Or none of the above. Their music is based on heavy guitars and heavy synth use, but the results are often as concerned with building imposing edifices as they are laying bruising riffs.

The band, currently comprising Dave Rowe and Ed Troup (March 2015) have released two albums, the most recent being 2014’s Hivemind, but before that came 2012’s Animalism. Lets take a look back at it…

cover plank

‘Dying For Pigs’ guitar is harsh, awkward and uncomfortable, like an overenthusiastic rectal examination. Yet the electronics suggest the sun peaking over a smoggy horizon in an 1980s thriller.

‘King Rat I, II, III’ starts with a medieval clarion call then slowly builds the atmosphere before finally releasing one hell of an air guitar riff at the two and a half minute mark. Yet the rhythm section is almost, dare I say it, jazzy? Maybe tempestuous would be a better term.

Click to listen to ‘King Rat I, II, III’

Riding in a motorcade of silky bass is ‘La Luna’ which then cracks open guitar fluttering, not a million miles away from ‘She Sells Sanctuary’ (no, really) then a riff reminiscent of ‘Spitfire’ by Public Service Broadcasting, though ‘La Luna’ was written 2 years before!

The album calms down with the krautrock ambient variety of chill out that it (or isn’t) ‘Alpha Dog’.

‘Self Harm’ puts the focus on metal, but a precise, mechanical, almost ascetic, brand of metal guitar. Meanwhile the synths are offering uplifting pastoral tones. This vibe bleeds into ‘Iguana Farm’ which paints a tainted Constable landscape; goblins crawling at the peripheries. This is another track where Plank manage to blend pleasure and pain in equal doses.

This is merely the appetiser for ‘Moolicks’ which has a riff borrowed from the siren on a nuclear sub. A gorgeous motorik beat drops before needling, razor-sharp post-punk guitars are thrust into your temples. Doomy bass gives way to the synths, which build a panicky tension then a wild, jagged guitar solo. At over 9 minutes this is an exercise in atmospherics, as much indebted to John Carpenter as Neu! and Wire.

Unpredictable, tonally wonky, manic-depressive and lacking in concentration. Veering from being a tweaking neurotic to a blissful, grand-staging attention seeker. Plank would be a terrible girlfriend. But as a band, they’re just dandy.

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