Plankton The Undertone

With The Undertone, Melbourne, Australia’s Plankton easily defy most genre categories, as this is a large statement from four musicians looking to express their proudly idiosyncratic musical tastes. When it works, it’s a breath of fresh air, but sometimes it doesn’t work and the music just floats away in a wisp of disinterest. Opener "Hurricane Annie” has an improvised indie rock feel, while next track "The Island of the Day Before” incorporates a jazzier groove, then switches into a more classic, slow-building post-rock song. "Where the Sea Meets the Sky” uses audio samples, some glitch and atmospherics to build its message, and the styles just never stop melding and switching. In fact, the closest band to Plankton would be current-era Tortoise; there is a large jazz element that keeps things a little off-kilter and improvised. The constant variation makes for some revelatory moments, like the tension and interplay at the beginning of "Mist Unit,” but it also becomes distracting, like on "Clouds Descending.” Some songs need tightening, some need more room to flourish, but throughout it all, it’s original and sometimes daring, which is definitely a good thing in today’s music environment. (Feral)