As much as I love post-rock and associated instrumental music, I seldom venture into digital based music. I’m a purist that likes to listen to music played on instruments instead of computers. I know that some post-rock bands and lots of hip-hop artists I listen to are quite sample heavy, but I always prefer live instrumentation. For example, I’ve enjoyed seeing some hip-hop bands like The Roots and David Dallas (with his backing band The Daylight Robbery) far more than seeing other rappers that have DJs or backing tracks.
Maybe I need to get with the times. Many of New Zealand’s major current music exports (Kimbra, Lorde, Broods, Brooke Fraser) are all headed in that direction, but I’m not really interested most of that stuff.
So when I listened to Overflow, the forthcoming album from Italian four piece Platonick Dive, my opinion was quite divided. A lot of it sounds like 65daysofstatic to me – post-rock with a heavy electronic element. I don’t mind music like that, but it’s certainly not my preference. That said, sections of Overflow were really striking and caught my attention.
I’ve previously listened to the song “Træ” from Platonick Dive that featured on a Nothing But Hope and Passion compilation. This was off Platonick Dive’s first album “Therapeutic Portrait”. I liked the song but it isn’t a fair introduction to Overflow, because the second album is a change of direction for the band. This is a deliberate move. “We are in a continuous artistic movement”, their press release says, “the most dangerous thing you can do is to stay still”. This is a band that is ever changing, and always experimenting. Trying to push the envelope is one thing, but does it make the music convoluted when it’s heading in too many directions?
Not really. There is a lot of influences at play here, but it seems to work. The album is well produced. Parts reminds me of one of Platonick Dives’ contemporaries – electro/ambient outfit worriedaboutsatan. The music is crisp, deliberate, moody. And plenty of it is clearly electronic. The track “From Seattle To Berlin” is full of glitches and DJ style scratches, a feel that continues throughout the album.
The instrumentation is interesting. I am a drummer, so of course the excellent drumming and percussion stood out to me. Keyboards are quite dominant. There are all sorts of other sounds and instruments utilised, many of which come from a computer. I quite liked the part in “High Tide” that sounded like marimba or xylophone.
Some songs feature singing. The vocals on “Mirror” especially stood out to me. For a predominantly instrumental band, I suggest they have a serious rethink about their style. Hiding a voice as good as that is wasteful.
And of course the album includes the obligatory samples, like Maybeshewill would use in their early material. “Geometric Lace” features a sample about marijuana, and “Back Home Boulevard” includes a quote about junkies, so I think it’s fair to say drugs influence the band in some way.
I feel like I’m a bit out of my element here because although it’s similar to some music I listen to, it’s at the same time quite different. I could allude to genres like electronica, trip-hop, dubstep, house… but I’m really not an authority on those matters. If I had to describe the songs “Above You” and “Reverb Nation” I’d have to use the phrase “beep boop boop”. Platonick Dive’s Facebook page categorises their genre as “Electronic Therapy With Feedback Explosions”, so I guess “beep boop boop BOOOOOM” would be more apt.
This is an album that I would expect to hear in a café. Background music that is a bit unusual and ‘arty’, but not something I’d chose to listen to at home. It is well crafted, and I enjoy parts of it, but I think at the end of the day I still prefer to listen to music that is actually played by people, more so than computers.
If you like post-rock and you’re not as uptight as I am about music being ‘real’ or ‘live’, then I’m sure you will enjoy Overflow.
Overflow releases on February 17th 2015