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Album Reviews : Plini – Sunhead

By on July 24, 2018

During a recent discussion with guitarist Plini Roessler-Holgate, I made a point of sharing a thought; name-checking Ian Moss (Cold Chisel) and blues/ rock legend Kevin Borich, Plini has rather quickly achieved a status occupied by very few. I’ll now throw in Nathan Cavaleri, Tommy Emmanuel and bassist Tal Wilkenfeld…  Plini is on track to become one of Australia’s favoured guitar icons.

Why though?

As an artist, Plini, is evolving into the type of composer that manages to allow his emotions to positively affect his considerable technical chops. That statement isn’t fluff… just how many ‘guitar god’ albums are, when it’s all said and done, interesting only for the amount of times the performer offers the equivalent of an Olympic gymnastics performance on the fretboard?

Without emotion, feeling, passion, and a deft understanding of the marriage between one’s creative muse and technical ability, it all gets rather pointless.

Sunhead wont challenge the detractors of complex, jazz fusion instrumental music to rethink their bias, but it will introduce Plini to a wider audience courtesy of the accessibility of the four metallically forged prog-inspired jazz fusion epics contained on the release. The enjoyment factor is enhanced given the clear evolution from prior releases; Sunhead is a collection of cuts that will find a place in the aficionado’s music collection as it will in the casual listeners Spotify mix designed not to offend sensibilities at the in-law’s family BBQ (I can imagine the cut “Kind” played between Powderfinger’s “My Happiness” and Eskimo Joe’s “Sarah” …)

The mentioned “Kind” offers an immediate nod to jazz noodling via the twin guitar/ bass intro that bursts into a staccato beat that fans of Animals As Leaders will recognise, before breaking open into a sequence of lead guitar braced melodies. It’s on this cut that its perhaps most obvious that Plini is fully embracing the many colours of fusion music, with the rock/ metal themes of the previous releases less obvious.

“Salt + Charcoal” has been available for some time, with its immediately obvious melodic phrasing and djent ‘verse’ passages it was the smart choice to release as a video and via streaming services prior to the album. “Flâneur” is rich in prog sensibility with its wandering organ response to Plini’s epic lead guitar, the saxophone solo that morphs into the piano solo is neatly underpinned by the exceptional groove of the bass guitar which might just be the most intriguing moment across Sunhead. Finally, the title cut is steeped in the grand traditions of master Steve Khan and his rock-based take on jazz fusion (see The Blue Man– ’78).

Plini has appeared on vids for esteemed publications such as Guitar World and he stunned audiences at NAMM 2018 alongside bass prodigy Simon Grove. Despite the raft of genre references in this review, he is well on the way to becoming the type of artist that will transcend labels. If it isn’t Sunhead, it’ll be another release on the near horizon that catapults Plini into the rarefied air of ubiquitous performers whose reputation precedes them.

Band: Plini
Album: Sunhead
Year: 2018
Genre: Prog Metal/ Jazz Fusion
Label: Independent
Origin: Australia


Andrew is a musician who has spent many years performing on the stages of the pubs and clubs of Queensland. A devotee of the broad church that is rock, punk, funk, jazz and of course all genres of metal... he now shares his enthusiasm via a burgeoning pursuit of music journalism. Follow him on twitter @andymckaysmith