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If the first introduction was fleeting, the second will definitely be more sustained. Manchester-based trio Plank!’s first studio recordings were designed to be short, sharp impacts that twisted and beguiled the senses before withdrawing into the North West suburbs again as hastily as they’d emerged. First their self-titled EP and then the double-A side ‘Self Harm/Pig Sick (Remix)’ – both through aA (Akoustik Anarkhy) - led to a flurry of shows at festivals including Green Man, Manchester International Festival, as well as supports with The Phantom Band, Sleepy Sun, Fuijya & Miyagi among others. Yet they then disappeared again, seeking to refine their Krautrock-based chameleonic sound.
That refinement has come by way of expansion; everything on Animalism has been given more time to breathe, to find its own path and explore. Part of that came, says the group’s Johnny Winbolt-Lewis, due to their decision to record his drums in the echoing expanse of Salford’s Sacred Trinity Chapel. “Having the chance to utilise the natural reverb from the church certainly provided more options in the mixing of the album,”
Guitarist and producer Dave Rowe’s stamp is all over the record, responsible for much of the album’s sci-fi emoting space rock textures, thanks to an echo unit he used prominently when taking the tracks back to his own Racketaudio studio where the majority of the album was recorded. There’s also Rowe’s greater experimentation with synthesizers, Winbolt-Lewis cracking “He spent time with different ones, taking them out for meals and the like.”
Whatever it was he did with them, the simple fact that new sounds have been introduced to Plank!’s sonic vocabulary has allowed them to create truly character-shifting pieces beyond anything they’ve achieved before and, in the cases of the likes of ‘La Luna’ and ‘Pig Sick,’ breathe new life into songs already released as earlier incarnations. Numbers like ‘King Rat’ and ‘Moolicks’ are the first time the group has stretched into eight and nine-minute territory, though with their open-ended European avant-rock leaning style you sensed it was always a possibility. With their cornerstones of Krautrock, electronica, prog and rock, even a hint of jazz, it's one of the most interesting albums to come out of Manchester for a good while.
1.Dying For Pigs
2.King Rat I, II, III