Plant43 – Three Dimensions

4 out of 5

Label: Central Processing Unit

Produced by: Emile Facey

A track in, and I’m ready to swear in Plant43’s Three Dimensions as the next CPU masterpiece.

This is both dense but minimalist stuff; chill but intense. The album title and track names (e.g. Lo-res Dreams; Mono Sky Monolith) are indicative of the vibe: throwback futurism, simple rhythms that look to the sky with awe. The A-side sets a template for this, letting laidback, light beats percolate while keys hover in and out. I was fascinated by the restraint and its effectiveness: while my main criticism for a lot of techno is in how artists often find a groove and then stick to it – not evolving – Three Dimensions’ almost rigid nature is its boon: the mood has much to do with this, as the way the production purposefully mutes the beats and reverbs the sounds is soothing, such that it takes on a trancelike quality. This makes the subtle affectations whispered throughout gorgeously affecting. Both Neon Dimensions and the title track strike this blend, with the tracks varying in register – the former more grooving, low-end; the latter higher-pitched and relatively hurried.

Plant43 dives a bit deeper on the B-side, offering some startling disarray of squiggling, random keys over Lo-res Dreams’ moody beat, then goes even darker in tone on the pulsing Disrupt & Disobey, which explodes in synth fireworks in its latter half. Aspects of these tracks are even more subtle than the A-side stuff, a bit slower to the punch, but subsequent spins offer rewards, syncing up the quieter moments to the louder ones.

However, this is harder to extend to C-side’s extreme minimalist experiment Mono Sky, on which a clipped beat plays out over 8 minutes with ambient surges playing way off in the background. It’s an interesting idea, and again, further listens help to clear up what Plant43 was going for, here, but it’s a long stretch with not enough going on to sell its strengths.

The closing tracks swing back to form, though: Orange Neon Display and Check the Resolution are back in the sort of 80s, head-bobbing vibe of the A-side, leaving closer Exoplanet Transmission to broadcast its sense of wonder heavenward, via a gorgeous swirl of keys.