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Live Review: plantlife blooms on 'we don't speak much'

28 June 2018 | 10:30 am | Kyle Fensom

plantlife unveils his second single, ‘we don’t speak much’, a sensuous, tranquil ode to jazz and tribal sounds that quietly looks to reshape house music.

The mysterious Sydney producer PLANTLIFE turned heads last year with the lush, detailed sample-based, analogue-inspired approach to production on show during his debut single for Of Leisure, ‘losing light’. Those qualities are on full display again on his new single, ‘we don’t speak much’, a sensuous, tranquil ode to jazz and tribal sounds that quietly looks to reshape house music.

A warm, dulcet piano motif provides the track’s rhythmic and structural backbone, grounding the tribal inflections of the beat and undercurrents of jazz as plantlife compiles layer upon layer of instrumentation in a way that feels both spontaneously alive and arduously constructed at the same time. Beneath, plantlife keeps the ‘we don’t speak much’ in constant movement, much like the crackling tape hiss that lies below the entire track, quietly bustling with a nervous but apprehensive energy as the craftsman shyly flirts with styles of disco, jazz, house and ambient music. But the underlying hesitancy makes the track feel as if it’s holding something back, as if its aliveness is waiting to blossom underneath plantlife’s layered construction.

Around the three minute mark, plantlife stunningly veers from this sense of meticulous construction, breaking the track down to a humid, lone trumpet line that sounds as though it could be transmitting straight from the bars of Bourbon Street. From there, the track becomes truly alive, as rides its afro-beat rhythms and flashes of its vivid house piano into a feverish climax.

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It's a bit of a platitude, but with 'we don't speak much', plantlife builds an entire world within his music. In doing so, he brings to mind THE AVALANCHES, another group who also trade on the tension between spontaneity and construction, whose sample-based approach allows them to absorb and fold a singularly eccentric array of genres and influences into their escapist sonic worlds. Drawing from the jazz bars of New Orleans to the jungles of the Amazon to the clubs of  Sydney and to the lo-fi house playlists of the internet, the world plantlife builds is one which could only exist within 'we don't speak much'. But the real beauty is in how this self-contained universality enables universality in our own world, making plantlife's music equally suited for your rainy-day commute to work as it is for your local tastemaker's latest DJ set or for your next dinner playlist.

IMAGE: Supplied