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The best kept secret in music


"Splendid Ezine - Hello More"

Plane's musical history, if we are to believe the words of band founder and self professed misanthrope Edgars Legzdins, has been a flash of cultish success and shaky musical camaraderie. As Legzdins's bandmates moved through Plane's revolving door faster than winds on a floodplain, most of Plane's releases up to this point have been the result of Legzdins's obsession with Britpop, painted with the eerie of vibe of Chicago's haunted Blue Room Studios. Hello More feels like more of a collaborative effort than the previous releases, thanks mostly to the addition of guitarist/songwriter Ed Anderson. The two apparently spent several weeks in the Blue Room writing this drugged out, no-wave, Morrissey-tainted, retro-electronic, sonic splat of an album. Hello More is equal parts catchy, heartbreaking and confounding. For every explosion of brilliant songwriting and dizzying production, with guitars dancing from left speaker to right speaker and video game noises and samples popping in and out of the mix, there is a thirty second song that was recorded on an answering machine. Yes, that's true. It's maddening and it might just be a masterpiece.
At a slender 26 minutes (it's actually 35 - plane), Hello More feels more like a bloated EP than a full-length album. Of the ten tracks, only four reach any kind of traditional musical conclusion. "Western Avenue" and "Heart & Soul" open the disc with a vicious one-two punch; each song is sad, yet danceable. Anderson's ability to pen a catchy chorus -- backed by Plane's drum machine (which sounds like it might be the oldest drum machine in existence) and absurdly lush electronics -- is a misleading promise that the remainder of Hello More makes no attempts to fulfill.
Stringing together these tracks and the other two radio-friendly pieces, "Please Save My Body from the Modern World" and "Rope", is a series of increasingly bizarre musical interludes that tell the hilarious story of what happens when two artists descend into the agoraphobic madness of a long studio session. These moments reach an emotional peak with "Mr. Edgars", a voice mail from Chicago 911 informing Legzdins that they "found his auto and are going to tow it if we don't hear from you in twenty minutes", played on top of a strange Rainbow Brite sounding synth free flow. Many artists are accused of hiding from life's problems by channeling them into their craft, but it's rare to find such a literal example.
Funny? Hell yeah. Catchy. You bet. Hello More might give you a slight nosebleed, but between the rich soundscapes of Plane's '80s dance numbers and the wiry dryness of Legzdins singing and strumming into his answering machine mic while holding the record button down with his toe, you'll be hard pressed to find a bigger window into the psyche of the brokenhearted, the downtrodden and the hungover.
- Philip Stone

"Chicago Daily Herald - Hello More"

In the past few months, I've enjoyed listening to some recent releases from Chicago bands. Here's a look at the best:

Studio wizards Plane may often sound like New Order revivalists, but there is nothing cold about this second album, a thrilling collection of booming, sensual dance epics complemented by miniature art pastiches.
The core of their second album lies with the techno songs that never subside, but keep switching moods and zigzagging into new directions.
"Western Avenue" sets a dark romance on Chicago's longest street. "Dodging all the holes on the avenue tonight/baby don't you think it's a lonely life," Edgars Legzdins sings, backed by a wall of guitars and a synthesizer maze.
"Heart &Soul" is just as catchy, its psychedelic dance beats and driving melody easily conjures the hallucinatory effect of being squeezed tight on a sweaty dance floor at 2 a.m. Plane, a five-member band, manages to maintain a warmth through the live instrumentation, analog effects and with the creative choices they make to build songs. Voices become the layers of beats on "Party Train," as it turns into a guitar jam. The songs are easy to get lost in, snagged by what ultimately sounds dangerous and a good time both.

"Pop Matters - Hello More"

For about 12 minutes, Plane's Hello More promises the sort of invention and attention to detail that prompts knee-jerk reactions of NEXT BIG THING, but unfortunately can't sustain the momentum that those opening minutes set forth. Plane is the project of one Edgars Legzdins, joined on this release by guitarist Ed Anderson, and the music is a combination of synth-inflected lo-fi indie rock and really, really obvious drum machines. For all the melodic songwriting and pop aspirations, it's those drum machines that define Plane's sound, giving it an icy detachment that's altogether odd when juxtaposed with the organic, flawed, inherently human sound of the guitars and vocals. After a quick, atmospheric intro, "Western Avenue" takes its place as a fantastic, multi-layered slow burn, and "Heart and Soul" contains the best set of xylophone-sounding synth lines since "Hey Ya". Everything after "Heart and Soul" is less developed and less lovely, juxtaposing undercooked downtrodden Brit-rock with sonic experiments ranging from answering machine messages to ventures into Animal Collective-esque space-folk. The unclassifiable nature of the album as a whole is refreshing, and you certainly can't beat the price of a free download -- still, the strength of those first twelve minutes can't help but diminish any achievement the rest of the album might achieve. - Mike Schiller

"Pitchfork - Hello More"

If the indie rock single wasn't such a constitutionally impoverished creature, Plane might've released a great one. Instead, the Chicago-based quintet felt the need to make a statement, and after the initial cochlea-tease of "Western Avenue" and "Heart & Soul", Hello More spends 20-some precious minutes emphasizing to the listener that the band's imagination is too eclectic for catchy-ass electro pop alone.
I'm seeing "Western Avenue" as the A-side. The schmaltzy drum machine that limps all over the record works better than elsewhere in this melodic, structured context: Muted guitar chords chomp rhythmically at the splashy mechanical beat like small teeth, and Ed Anderson's cool falsetto coasts through a foursquare, Gibbardesque melody (yeah, I said it). The crisp dynamic shifts and organized flourishes whet your appetite for more of the same, especially during the radiant synth pinwheels of the chorus. The variegated beats, lush guitar pulses, cleanly shifting intensities, and svelte vocals of "Heart & Soul" further elevate these high hopes.
It's especially frustrating that the two winners are sequenced right at the beginning of the album (after the brief overture "Compass Tape"), so that they trick you into thinking you're in for a consistent experience. Not so; the remainder of the record is wildly erratic in every aspect, even recording quality, and it sounds more like defensive experimentation than deliberate variation. It's like taking a couple bites of a tasty peanut butter and jelly sandwich, only to find subsequent bites getting all avant-garde with ham, then onions, then sardines, then Legos.
If a dynamite single wasn't enough, they even could have stretched it to a solid EP. On "Rope", Edgar Legzdins replaces Anderson's bright, silky falsetto with a drearier register, but it's a passable bit of silly-robot motorik homage. The straightforward emoting, acoustic strummage and injured guitar leads of the title track are nice enough; and even "Please Save My Body From the Modern World", with its goofy drum patterns, spongy bass throb and feel-good rock vocal could've worked on an EP, as a tacked-on "Hey look at this wacky thing we made on the fly haha we're crazy dudes" song.
But all this excellence and decency is occluded by stillborn fragments that seem a slap in the face to Plane's songwriting chops. "Party Train" is among the most interesting of these, tremoloed guitars wending through a rhythmic chassis of German vocal samples and jerky drums. "It's What I Like, Dear" and "Adams" both sound like partial demos of uninspired indie rock songs, and "Broken Woods" is a low-carb Animal Collective substitute. I guess Plane made whatever statement they needed to make, but from a listener's perspective, Hello More could've stood to be a bit hello less.
- Brian Howe

"Illinois Entertainer - Hello More"

If New Order, Pet Shop Boys, and Erasure are all part of the same family, consider Plane to be a slightly off-kilter cousin -- definitely of the same blood, but eccentric and quirky. There are moments of startling beauty, such as the mesmerizing chorus in "Heart And Soul" and the guitar line in "Rope," alongside improvised sonic chaos ("Hello More") and whirly-gig weirdness ("Party Train"). Such juxtapositions make Hello More a strange and awkward, but compelling listen. - IE


Hello More - Released May 24, 2005 on Dirigeable/Future Farmer Records
Shake My Ground - Released November 25, 2003 on Blue Room/Dirigeable
Idiot 4-1 EP - Released 2002 on Blue Room
Don't Feed The Lonley - Released 2001 on Blue Room


Feeling a bit camera shy


Hello More is Plane's 2nd full band project following their Dec. 2003 release of Shake My Ground. Shake My Ground, debuted at #41 on CMJ's top 200 and #46 on CMJ's core 75 in Jan. of 2004. Shake My Ground was co-released by The Minder's Martyn Leaper's Dirigeable Records. Despite the success of Shake My Ground, Plane decided to push a new artistic vision to the forefront on Hello More and not limit themselves with a previous formulated sound. Hello More carefully balances composition with studio improvisations to present listeners with a unique balance of spontaneity and introspection. Mixing programmed and live dance beats, guitar hooks, experimental noise, and analog synth sounds, the band creates a mixture of old and new. Complimenting the melodic and sometimes chaotic sonic palette are lyrics that deal with overindulgence and introversion within a world on the brink of collapse. The band's influences include Velvet Underground, Echo and the Bunnymen, Modern English, New Order, Pavement, The Cure, Prince. The album was produced at Legzdins' Blue Room Studio and maintains his style of recording on the spot, capturing the emotional impact of music with improvised lyrics and from the gut instrumental hooks. Sometimes mics were placed where they should be, other times we just said fuck it and pressed record."