Knowing that this was the work of an experimental post-rock artist and with a cerebral title like ‘Involuntary Memory’, I went into this expecting something far more esoteric and subtle. To my pleasant surprise this is not the work of an introspective impressionist – Mark Di Giovanni (aka Plastic Handgun) launches into each track with gusto, splashing the canvass with bold expressionistic strokes.
The first track almost proves me wrong, but not quite. Yes, it’s called “Introverts”, and yes, it starts out with some low-key loops. And when the vocals arrive they are in the form of feathery dream pop. But wait… Before long the percussion starts kicking up a fuss and making itself known, the music starts twisting in swirls of complexity, a strong riff takes hold and then (gasp) we get a tempo change. And that is the most laid-back of all the tracks. The next track, “Eustachian Tubes”, dives into a noisy electronic beat and at that point any chance of this being some glorified form of elevator music gets heaved out the window.
I have no idea what the significance is of any of the song titles (“Three Wolf Procession”? “Capillary Vessel”?) but that doesn’t matter. This album is all about expression – the expression is the thing, not the meaning behind it. The complex rhythm section in “Lisbon”, the cinematic electric guitar in “Grave Spinning II”, the dramatic up-and-down swoops of “Capillary Vessel” – these are all a pure joy to hear, without need for a back-story or deeper meaning.
Di Giovanni uses vocals sparingly on the album, and when he does use them they are simply another layer in the mix, not a focal point. “The Dust You Kick Up is Too Fine” is perhaps an exception, as it is difficult not to notice his sweetly sung words bouncing around the inside of your skull like a ping pong ball. Still, the singing doesn’t even make an entrance until the midpoint of the song.
Let’s face it, ‘ear worms’ are not always about lines in a song – quite often it’s a riff, a rhythm or a musical passage that gets stuck in our head. Sometimes lyrics can add further depth of appreciation, but at other times it just isn’t important. ‘Involuntary Memories’ is a case of the latter. Dig it.