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For Beginner Piano


Electronic music works really well when it offers ferocious beats or when it employs complex textures and soundscapes that encourage you to become lost in reverie. It doesn’t work well as lounge music, that is unless you don’t mind something tame and bland to play in the background (and I stress, background) while you and your pals down martinis. Unfortunately, British trio Plone verge on that territory with For Beginner Piano, a record so steadfast in its politeness and unwillingness to intrude in your thoughts, much less move your feet, that it risks becoming elevator music. There’s nothing disagreeable about For Beginner Piano, so I can’t exactly pan the record, but to tell you the truth, I’d almost prefer disagreeable, at least then I’d feel “something.”

The album starts out promisingly enough with “On My Bus,” and the gentle mood works for a few tracks. Trouble is, the mood, beats and melodies rarely vary. If Plone really want to stay away from dancefloor techno and compose mind music, they’re gonna have to mix things up a bit and they do have the potential to do just that. For Beginner Piano works best as really, late night music, but definitely not late night driving music, as it’s likely to lull you into a peaceful trance so tranquil you’ll be asleep at the wheel before you know it.


Sarah Zupko founded PopMatters, one of the largest independent cultural criticism magazines on the web, back in the Internet's early days of 1999. Zupko is a former Executive Producer for Tribune Media Services, the media syndication arm of the Tribune Company, and a 10-year veteran of Tribune. Her other pursuits involve writing historical fiction and research in the fields of Slavic and German history, as well as general European cultural and intellectual history. Zupko studied musicology, film, and drama at the University of Chicago and media theory at the University of Texas, where she received her M.A.

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