Reviewed by Jack Derricourt
Plastic Handgun possesses a violent intellectualism. His music, bred from the university-besotted streets of Toronto, leaks theories and futurism. The parts that work in the machines of his creation are dense and convoluted — but this doesn’t mean they’re not beautiful.
Involuntary Memories, the newest LP by Plastic Handgun, is a collection of experiments, with myriad toys to colour the language of melody. The title speaks clearly of the content: each piece of music trails in an unforseen direction, forcing the listener to acknowledge the transformation of the sound. Something is hidden within each selection of guitar, each continuous beat — something not entirely at ease. The album isn’t afraid of space: lyrics are often used as flourishes, rather than mainstays within the arrangements; repetition guides the motions; there are only clues; there is no definite standpoint from which to judge the picture as a whole.
The album is a collection of nouns, subjects to be studied. Each sits comfortably next to its fellow, yet leads in a unique direction. “Eustachian Tube” is a hard mother of a electronic track. The beat is slow and steady, allowing the distorted riffs and rolling blips and beeps to contort wildly through the mix. But coupled to such a harsh winter is the blissful summer of “Lisbon,” a darkly dancing, minimal, lyrically-entrenched piece. The variety is fresh and well-paced, allowing the album to breathe and shift naturally.
Everything sits at around four minutes, excepting “The Dusk You Kick Up Is Too Fine,” a waltzing bump in the road before the album’s culmination. The length of the music has no bearing on the weight of each subject, but there is uniformity to be found in that average four-minute mark. Different voices and effects play around those four-minute roots. Most notably, closer “Mirror Stage” stretches the variety of firings the musical neurons of the record can propel, sending parts and loops out in a multiplicity of directions. True, it still sounds like fairly chill, electronic-based pop music, but within the universe of frequencies espoused by Plastic Handgun, “Mirror Stage” is a trip of the light fantastic, the epic journey at journey’s end.
So much for vicious music. What lies at the root of Involuntary Memories is the joy of many paths travelled. Plastic Handgun is changing what he does as he does it, and it’s worth paying attention to. Listen in.
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)
Top Track: “Lisbon”