Recommended to me because of my love of Fever Ray (and The Knife) Planningtorock is like a relative of that genre. Electro-distortion. Janine Rostron takes on her moniker and gets going into a bizarre album of pulsating groove, twisted troll voices and saxophone solos.
Opening with brooding “Doorway” a constant pulse throbs throughout with pizzicato strings clicking underneath. Janine’s vocals are twisted and mutated to a low moan as the saxophone blares out dramatic fanfare. It’s very creepy, very stilted and very similar particularly to Fever Ray. “The One” then lets the dramatic get funky with a very stern string/organ melody slowly building into a dance frenzy without a drum beat while Janine’s vocals echo and dual each other. It’s like an electronic orchestra playing in the damp dark. It’s beautiful and haunting at the time. “Manifesto” brings in the percussion and the keyboard stabs in a bizzarro warp of tribal drumming, hyper distorted backing vocals that make half the melody and the whole thing sounds like it’s about to collapse and fall apart. Yet its strangely hypnotic and enticing. Part of the charm is that it doesn’t conform at all to how the song timing and structure should be. “Going Wrong” follows with a mash-up of all of the above. Her backing vocals sound like a plane falling out of the sky whilst mating with a bumble bee! The noises are wondrously weird whilst you can pick out real instruments among the strange.
“I’m Yr Man” then gets utterly nuts with a vicious and gritty track that bleeds every scream and electronic bleep into a graining barrage of sound to your ears. “The Breaks” is the first real “Normal” song – well as normal as the album gets anyway. It has proper hooks, choruses and audible lyrics that make an impact. It also has a usual song structure too. It’s a great introduction to the artist and a personal favourite. “Living It Out” then shakes it up with a disco beat! It also has a very funky clubbing worthy chorus. If Planningtorock is ever going to be on most of the clubs, this would be the song to use. “Milky Blau” is more of an abstract track with lots of saxophone stabs over heavy-handed keyboard chords that reminds me of something the Cocteau Twins would make if they had no guitars. “Jam” then goes more industrialist with some amazing percussive loops that really shows Janine can, if she wanted to, make an absolute stomper of a track. She chooses to with this one that has a crazy melodic riff that repeats for the verses. It’s another personal highlight as it feels relentless. “Black Thunder” is a moody instrumental of synthesizers and chopped up samples of other instruments layered over the top to make a strangely relaxing piece. “Janine” is a short message of warning to herself before the album closes with the steel drum infused “#9” which has a great swaying drum beat and a strong melody that rounds things off with a bit of clarity!
Planningtorock’s “W” is an utter mess. Boy what a marvellous mess it is. I will say that it has taken a few listens to really get into the groove of it. Some songs instantly stand out because they have hooks and this is certainly one of the few albums to allow me appreciation for the saxophone too. It’s a wonderful clusterfuck of the kitchen sink of technology being abused from a great height. I wait for what else Janine is Planningtodo.