Post-rock bands dabbling with electronics is nothing new – it’s in fact become something of an inevitability for many. In 2014 alone there were some standout releases in this field from heavyweights such as This Will Destroy You, sleepmakeswaves and, of course, arguably the pioneers, 65daysofstatic.
Now on their second LP, young Italian trio Platonick Dive are the latest to expand further the synth tones and electronic beats from Therapeutic Portrait, their debut. Now intrinsic rather than decorative, the greater importance of the electronic elements makes Overflow a celebration of mutualism rather than juxtaposition. In the press release of slightly broken English can be found a pleasingly poetic description of the evolved sound: ‘a soundtrack for a slow, abstract dance’. While it’s hard to imagine two people engaged in a traditional slow dance to this record, the image conveyed of being absorbed by that before you is apt. Reverb-drenched lead guitars, minimal bass parts, female vocal samples and treble-heavy production all create a dreamy, ethereal atmosphere that enchants and remains somehow intact even during the most explosive moments; during the loudest of these, in “The Best Is Yet To Come”, the attentive listener can discern through the pummeling snare drumming the faint chimes of a calming glockenspiel.
More impressive than the equal marriage of the two genres is how the band encourages their songs away from the lengthy embrace of the atmosphere they create. Indeed, it is arguably another stereotype of post-rock bands to condense compositions they previously would have drawn out. The album’s title may suggest an abundance of ideas, but the trio have managed to force them into a collection of tightly constructed songs, only one of which exceeds five minutes. After repeated listens a rough formula can even be discerned: a synth-and-beats-based intro is given voice by a melodic guitar line and momentum by the drummer’s entrance, before a crescendo of overdriven guitars erupts to bring the song to a climactic close, sometimes interrupted by a quieter interlude. The powerful opener “Spoken Noise”, whose impressively produced video is below, exemplifies this.
While many artists may disagree, having a formula isn’t necessary a negative provided it makes effective use of the chosen instrumentation. The music is not repetitive per se, it merely reveals the joins and seams beneath the polished surfaces. Having a formula also elevates those tracks that eschew it, and the likes of “Mirror” and “Geometric Lace” accordingly command the most attention – the former with effective vocal development and the latter with pumping and hooky outro.
There are hints of the band’s willingness to further expand its tonal palette, such as the brief string-led close to “Mirror” and the rhythmically jarring finish of “The Best Is Yet To Come”. While voice samples discussing the effects and legalisation of marijuana needlessly highlight the youth of the band, Overflow is on the whole mature and impressively cohesive. All Platonick Dive should seek to do next is explore those outlying sounds and start developing some genre customs of their own. (Chris Redfearn)