Name an album Dawn of the Golden Eternity, and you give a pretty clear idea of what’s going on inside. So perhaps it’s not surprising that Dewey Mahood – for he is Plankton Wat, as well as being one third of Eternal Tapestry – has opted for the slightly more straightforward Spirits this time round, perhaps in the hope that people who draw the line at albums entitled Dawn of the Golden Eternity will give it a fair chance.
Spirits is an album of fairly mellow psychedelic guitar work, occasionally soaring in a blaze of controlled pyrotechnics and hand drums (the title track, “Broken Slumber”). For about half the album, however, Plankton Wat is quite happy to explore his more introspective side, with drones and acoustic guitars, such as the thoughtful “Fabric of Life” and the sprightly “Portland & Western Cross”. It is this variety that gives the psychedelic side more power; rather hammering away with the same style across 10 tracks, the less self-consciously epic pieces provide a much needed contrast.
In a similar vein to Jon Porras’ Black Mesa, Spirits is an album inspired by geography, and one really gets a sense of blasted plains, and wide open skies – perhaps it is the earthy percussion that makes the connection, or the droning guitar work that acts as a solid bed for Mahood’s explorations. But the album frees the listener from the phyiscal ties that bind and enables one to conjure up any number of personal impressions of the music. It’s not the most immediate work, and it takes time for the mysteries of the music to be uncovered but the differing styles that Plankton Wat embraces fit together beautifully to make Spirits greater than the sum of its parts. (Jeremy Bye)