Well, crumbs. Today marks the 2nd Anniversary of 6 Days From Tomorrow, and I still don’t know what I’m doing. Ah well, it’s been mostly fun so far and I’m not completely fed up with it yet, so thanks to all for variously reading, contributing and recording stuff that’s been giving me something to do in all that time. Hopefully, I can now stay awake long enough to get to the end of this one, otherwise I’ll have to go back tomorrow and change all my tenses.
Anyway, it seems a bit on the apt side to include this today as this gem is completely brand-new to me, finding its way to me via the medium of Twitter and a brief yet polite conversation regarding the nature of made-up genres, the latter of which regular viewers will be fully aware that I flipping well love.
Electronica. I have bandied this name about myself with some abandon, usually in the hope that nobody ever asks me to expand on this. Mostly because, to me, the term “electronica” kind of means little more than “something’s been plugged in”. It’s a bit of a name that’s open to a certain level of cheery mockery and self-aware appropriation, so it’s “Hello!” to Scotchtronica artist Plum (aka Shona Maguire) with this, her new album that features things that are not only plugged in, but also some that aren’t.
The Seed is a concept album, built around the notion of the seed of a negative idea that is left to grow. I do like having my preconceptions of new music shattered, and the opening (title) track does this wonderfully, thanks to a huge mucky bass sound that wouldn’t feel lost on a Stranglers album, growing into an urgent and paranoically-expansive song. From then on in, I’m constantly wrong-footed with each new track and I’m having no small amount of fun in having this happen.
The “I have to compare something to something else” in me does struggle a bit, although Plum’s intonation and lyrical directions do have that slightly angrily-melancholic lilting quality that I usually associate with Australia’s Red Ghost (and indeed both Quietly and The Truth & The Knife also remind me to an extent of Rosa Agostino’s debut EP), but for the most part it’s all a whole new territory for me, the electronic parts of The Seed varying from the confident and angry synthpop of Secret Roots, the complex arrhythmia of Smile, right through to the innocently-piped backing to Butterfly, sounding to these ears like a softer, gentler, more romantic Strawberry Switchblade.
I suppose that a danger with anything labelled (however loosely) as electronica is that it can sometimes be easy to fall into the genre trap of coming across as being a bit clinical. Plum avoids this nicely thanks in part for involving an acoustic guitar on more than one occasion, but mostly through her voice which remains utterly human throughout: becoming the heart in some songs; the body around others, echoing the versatility in her music throughout The Seed.
Despite the concept that The Seed is built around, it’s not a depressing album – far from it in fact, as it displays a positivity that grows throughout and becomes evident in the final song Meadow of Weeds that good can come from even the most negative of beginnings, or at least that’s how it appears to this button-monkey after a couple of listens. Plum/Shona has brought a welcome sense of life and nature to a genre usually more concerned with isolating and dismissing such traits. The album’s out on April 7th, it’s well worth checking out.