Plank - Future Of The Sea (GLS012)


Limited 12" blue vinyl

Shipping - In time for release date, 20/01/2023

First single 'Three Seascapes':

It seems fitting that a trilogy of albums celebrating nature should conclude some eight years after its second chapter. Manchester-via-Todmorden based instrumental trio Plank’s first two LPs – 2012’s kosmiche-inspired Animalism and 2014’s more expansive and structurally disruptive follow-up Hivemind – enjoyed relatively quick gestation periods. However, Plank are firm believers in letting nature run its course, and so it is that their third LP Future of the Sea arrives early in 2023. “I always knew I wanted to make three albums inspired by nature” says Plank main-man David Rowe (synths / guitar). “Future of the Sea is another exploration into odd time signatures and traditional rock instruments alongside synths and electronics.”

Far from laying idle for the last decade the three members of Plank have all being playing music as well as finding other creative outlets. After Rowe played with Jane Weaver and joined Kiran Leonard’s backing band, he turned his back on the touring life to turn wood in his new home of Todmorden. Drummer Liam Stewart toured with northwest synth-pop artist Lonelady and has enjoyed past and present stints with Mandy, Indiana, Francis Lung and, currently, TVAM. Bassist Ed Troup became busy with steadily-rising black metallists Wode and Heavy Sentence.

“Future of the Sea is a celebration of the power and majesty of our oceans and how humankind has been destroying them through industrial scale fishing and global warming” says Rowe. “Rachel Carson put it more eloquently in her book The Sea Around Us: ‘It is a curious situation that the sea, from which life first arose should now be threatened by the activities of one form of that life. But the sea, though changed in a sinister way, will continue to exist; the threat is rather to life itself.’” A post apocalyptic underwater city scape adorns the cover in an illustration by Jake Blanchard, whose work also adorns Richard Dawson's latest album 'The Ruby Cord'.
Indeed, the synthetic nature of Plank’s sprawling rock odysseys feel at their most pronounced on Future of the Sea, whether underpinning opening track Three Seascapes, providing the oscillating pulse of Dead Zone’s thunderous drilldown to some of the heaviest textures of their career, or opening up and letting daylight shine in on Red Tide’s Vangelis-ized crescendo of sound.

Volta Do Mar, meanwhile, brings in darting violin to cut through its more drone-led sculpturing. Its title is Portuguese for ‘turn of the sea’ and is the name of a breakthrough discovery in the 15th century by Portuguese navigators, allowed them to utilise the North Atlantic Gyre permanent wind circle to return home from Atlantic ports. It’s a theme that ties into the album as a whole.
This majesty reaches its undoubted peak with the album’s final opus. At 16 minutes long, Breaking Waves is the longest studio track Plank have committed to record. Almost a soundtrack for a hypothetical deep-sea documentary in itself, the song leans into the band’s love of film score composers like John Carpenter, 70s experimentalists Harmonia and 90s post-rock adjacent group Tortoise. In polyrhythmic dexterity if not heaviness, Plank also take some influence from Meshuggah, and it’s in their movement between the track’s sections that it feels most prominent. They swerve from crunching stoner rock jams to more ambient spatial explorations, crescendoing progressive peaks, 80s synth pop and finally a crushing riff-laden finale.

“My dog Evie had knocked my guitar over one afternoon and when I picked it up the G string had been gone out of tune by half a step” says Rowe of the track. “I spent a few hours playing it like that and the ideas kept coming. Each time I picked it up from that point some new riff came and that's when the idea of linking them together into a longer form track began.”

The track contrasts neatly with the relatively sharp, concise blasts of the album’s first half, but Future of the Sea is to be absorbed as a whole. It’s an album that reminds us of what Plank do best: confounding rock structure, exploring how far they can push the relatively minimalist setup of what a three-piece can do, and challenging the listener without ever losing their sense of playfulness. The Future of the Sea remains perilous, but in the present day at least, it’s good to have Plank back.

Artwork by Jake Blanchard