[Reviewed by Vitriol]
Sebastian Plano is a young multi-instrumentalist hailing from Argentina, and currently residing in Berlin. His main instrument is the cello, but he incorporates a plethora of instruments in his sound, such as vocals, piano and bandoneon – a traditional Latin American instrument resembling a concertina. His first album, “Arrhythmical Part of Hearts” will be re-released by Denovali this September along with “Impetus”, thus giving the artist an opportunity to gain a wider audience for both his works. A recognition he most certainly deserves, as an appreciative listener can conclude from just the first listen of “Impetus”.
Sebastian Plano’s compositions are characterized by a tasteful minimalism and an urban, post-rock feel, yet at the same time do not relinquish anything of their fervent romanticism and poetic bravery. It takes a lot of courage to replenish your creative pool by drawing from your own emotions, and to do it with just the simplicity of an artistic need for expression is even more admirable. This sort of immediacy is in my opinion the most attractive characteristic of “Impetus”, not counting the lovely compositions themselves, utterly captivating at all times. There is nothing pretentious or superfluous about this album, everything is derived directly from the artist’s soul and is completely honest.
When giving the record a second or third listen, its modernity classifies it as decidedly contemporary despite its orchestrations that are very similar to chamber music – this isn’t a Victorian couple taking a stroll in a spring garden, but rather a modern young man grown up in an industrialized environment, staring outside his window at the concrete walls, the grey, cloudless sky and large, ugly buildings, while dreaming about being in that garden. There is an escapist quality in this music, a sort of nostalgia that craves for a return to earlier times, when the concepts of beauty, love, suffering, were aggrandized.
However, some faint echoes of optimism pierce through the melancholy here and there, the album isn’t a pessimist one. For instance, “The World We Live In”, although beginning with a mournful cello melody, breaks out in a lighter, more brisk piano melody within the first couple of minutes, hinting that perhaps there is beauty and harmony even in this seemingly vulgar world that we are thrown in. After a while the cello gets carried away by the joyful mood of the piano. “Blue Loving Serotonin” sports one of the most dramatic cello sequences in the album which, complemented by the wistful tone of the piano, unravels a scenario of heartbreak and sadness. A richly cinematic track that could have easily been the soundtrack for a period drama film.
“In Between Worlds II” and “Emotions II” flow out of one another, displaying the musician’s classical training and compositional skill in a delicate, sophisticated interplay between different threads of melodic cello and variation of rhythm, tone and duration. The gentle accompaniment of the piano serves as a link between the two tracks. An ingenious amalgamation of modernity and high-class aesthetics that at times flirts with baroque. “Inside Eyes” is different than most of the other tracks, as it contains a lot of electronic elements, ethereal female vocals, even trip-hop rhythms at some points. A romantic piano melody in the vein of Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” carries the listener to the next track, “Outside Eyes”, that is a longer variation of the previous one, giving more emphasis to the cello. The album ends with “A Story Of Thoughts”, a down-tempo combination of piano and cello embellished with minimal electronics, that creates an atmosphere of fondness and appreciation – perhaps for the memories of the past.
Whether you enjoy contemporary classical, soundtracks, chamber music or the special brand of heavy-hearted, introverted post-rock that has been made popular by bands such as Sigur Rós, to name but the most prominent example, “Impetus” will undoubtedly hit a chord with you. Surprisingly mature, unquestionably skilled and refreshingly sincere, Sebastian Plano is definitely an artist to look out for.