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Twinkling Keys

For Beginner Piano

I want you to think of a pile of rinky-dink keyboards like you might find at a thrift store somewhere. Keyboards with keys no bigger than the width of your pinky and a whole bank of goofy sounds with which to play with. Now that you've done that, imagine some very talented little kids jamming away on about 3 of them and you may have something that sounds somewhat like For Beginner Piano. While the name suggests that the players involved might be inexperienced, it's really the sounds on the album that make it what it is. I'm sure that the fellows behind Plone didn't mine their equipment from a thrift-store, but the majority of this album pulses with such gooey, goofy sounds that it's not entirely out of the realm of possibilities.

I've already mentioned the word "goofy," but I'd also like to throw out a couple more words for you like "cheesy" and even "spooky" at times. Over the course of 10 songs (none of which run too long fortunately), Plone plunk out just under 40 minutes of quirky little songs that most of the time sound like they could be the twisted theme to a cartoon you watched when you were a kid.

The album starts out with "On My Bus," and it twinkles and flutters along while a thick low end rumbles along just underneath the surface. It's the second track of "Top & Low Rent" where the group hits their first stride, though. With a keyboard noise that sounds like a harpsichord treated to sound like Kraftwerk, the track feels like a gurgling, futuristic track in sort of a baroque style. It's strange, but it works. Following right on the heels of that track is the vocodor sing-along of "Plock" (named single of the year for 1998 by Melody Maker Magazine and also off an EP of the same name). It's a light little summery sounding track that's hard to resist at least humming along with.

"Marbles" is a completely great little jaunty track that bubbles along just as the name might suggest. Coming at the midpoint in the album, it's a great track before the album slows down for a bit. The group even manages to work a bit of a darker edge into things on the track "Press A Key" before they drop the completely awesome "Bibi Phone." With their odd array of funny little noises, the group creates something that sounds like a spaghetti western (complete with horse-hoof like little click-clock of beats) for Gumbi and Pokey. Basically, For Beginner Piano sort of sounds like nursery rhymes played on old-school keyboards and souped-up with some great and interesting sounds. It's a great release for summer listening, and it might just remind you that acting like a kid isn't such a bad thing.

Rating: 6.5