Plastic Handgun is the new face of experimental music, so deal with it. Mark Di Giovanni is a one-man electronic-cum-guitar-driven music machine with all of the talent and interest of Tangerine Dream and none of the pretense of Mogwai. Don’t know who either of those are? No need to look them up, because Plastic Handgun is here.
Involuntary Memories is Toronto native Mark Di Giovanni as Plastic Handgun’s second full-length album, though he has also put out four EPs. He’s been actively self-releasing his interesting electronic pieces since 2009, but Involuntary Memories is the first album which features a good dose of guitars, and even some lyrics. It doesn’t seem as though Di Giovanni is trying to make his work more marketable; he seems quite comfortable in the experimental realm. Rather, he seems more interested in adding layers to his established base, and he does so beautifully in this album. Example: the lead track, “Introverts.”
Here’s an obscure musical reference, especially to Brit audiences: Polaris, the group known by GenXers as the band who wrote and performed the theme tune to the quirky 90s kid’s show, “The Adventures of Pete and Pete,” is what the leading guitars sound a bit like on “Introverts.” If that’s not helpful, both guitar and vocals sound a bit like the Stone Roses, though Di Giovanni’s vocals could also be pegged as similar to Richard Butler, Love Spit Love era. No matter what the comparisons, Di Giovanni’s new formula for incorporating guitars and vocals into his sonic creations is definitely working.
“Introverts” is one of the less experimental tracks on Involuntary Memories both because of the guitars and vocals and because of the compositional structure, which is almost like that of a conventional pop or rock song. Not quite an A-B-A-B-C-B structure, but damn close. The song begins with beautiful guitars and Di Giovanni’s Butler-esque vocals and a sparse drum loop. The first section descends into noise loops, characteristic of experimental music, but then builds back up into a different melody using the same instruments, drum loop and vocal effects. The result is a crossover track which is charming and makes an interesting choice for a lead-in to the rest of the album, as Involuntary Memories gets much more experimental from there.
“Introverts” has the most listens so far of any of Plastic Handgun’s tracks on his Soundcloud page. Other highlights on Involuntary Memories are “Eustacian Tube,” “Lisbon” and “The Double Life,” not all of which have lyrics, mind you. The whole album is stellar, really, and it’s a wonderful surprise that this talented experimental producer is also handy with a guitar and has a smooth, buttery voice, hidden from the world lo these six years. With Involuntary Memories Di Giovanni’s new experiment in music seems to have been to add some more conventional elements, and it looks like the experiment has been a success.