By Layla Marino
The impression most listeners will have upon first listen is of a heavy dream pop vibe, but there is much more going on in Plastic Handgun’s sonic world. Somewhat like Mogwai smashed into Ratatat but with a sound all its own, Plastic Handgun may be the new thing in 2015 that hipsters crave.
Involuntary Memories is the name of the most recent Plastic Handgun album, self-released by Di Giovanni in early January. Not much is known yet about this project, nor its creator but the music says quite a bit on its own.
Despite the earlier quick-draw assessment, Plastic Handgun has a very nuanced sound and melds a number of genres to create a variance in sound and feel which at times sounds a bit like M83 and at others like The Stone Roses or Love Spit Love, but no one song on the album sounds as if it’s trying to emulate any other genre or artist.
The album opens with perhaps the most ambient and dream pop-y track of all, “Introverts.” The lively guitar melody perambulates a slow, dubstep drum beat as some of the only lyrics on the album are whispered by Di Giovanni. Obscure indie reference time: the guitar may remind some GenXers of Polaris, the band who played the intro track to the TV show “The Adventures of Pete and Pete” in the 90s. It’s beautiful guitar work, and the song is put together in a seemingly haphazard way, but my guess is Di Giovanni knew exactly what he was doing.
The recommended track on this album is the very next song, called “Eustacian Tube.” The song is named after the tube in the ear responsible for reducing the pressure which may cause damage to the middle ear and which supplies that “pop” most of us hear when unplugging our ears at high altitudes. I suspect the electronic backing track was created using some sort of tube amplifier or synthesizer like a Moog, so there’s your double meaning.
With probably the heaviest beat of any on the album, it seems at though “Eustacian Tube” was truly an experiment with sound and different equipment.
After “Eustacian Tube” and its descendent “Three Wolf Procession,” Involuntary Memories heads into more rock-fueled territory with “Grave Spinning II” and “The Double Life,” the former sounding a bit like Elvis Costello in the guitar arrangement and the latter sounding very 90s British rock.
The guitar gets a bit samey in the last few tracks on the album, but if you like Di Giovanni’s pretty, ambient guitar playing, you will hardly mind. The beat structures and backing tracks of each piece are varied, and when he does add lyrics, Di Giovanni also adds a layer of vulnerability and humanness to the sound.
The project known as Plastic Handgun definitely creates a feeling, is listened to all the way through, that one long déjà vu is unfolding like a path in front of the listener, and he or she only need take the first step to experience it. Like Tangerine Dream and Philip Glass before him, Di Giovanni as Plastic Handgun has created a body of work in Involuntary Memories which is half music, half REM sleep, and all sonic travel.
Involuntary Memories can be streamed or purchased on the Plastic Handgun Bandcamp page along with Di Giovanni’s two other self-released pieces, Corsicaixa and Saudade, which are both sonic trips in their own right. I recommend listening to each album all the way through to get the full effect before choosing which songs to download. If you’re like me, you’ll end up with each album as its own playlist.