Plaster’s sonic weight gain blasts off live

Local trio Plaster were once renowned and rewarded for their electronic jazz sound. In the wake their sophomore record Let It All Out, released by Vega Musique earlier this year, they aim to rock the block.

Plaster, photo by Susan Moss

Let It All Out is the latest album by Plaster, a band that has evolved from an electronic jazz combo compared to Amon Tobin and Medeski Martin and Wood to a powerful electro-rock engine that revs into action spectacularly on stage. First Aid Kit, their ADISQ award-winning debut LP, came out way back in 2005, leaving lots of time for new influences and new projects to affect Plaster’s sound. But, according to the band’s drummer Jean-Phi (aka Jean-Philippe) Gonclaves, the change came earlier than you might think.

“We were heading that way naturally,” he says. “At the end of the tour for the first album, we were already somewhere else, and that somewhere else was much heavier.”

In 2007, Gonclaves teamed up with Betty Bonifassi to form Beast, a band whose horking heaviness matched name. Meanwhile, Plaster keyboardist Alex McMahon started to stray from the electronic milieu to produce and play with pop/rock artists like Yann Perreau and Ariane Moffatt, and bassist François Plante veered away from jazz to play with Dears offshoot For Those About to Love and country/folk act Camaromance. And soon these projects would come to take up all their time. Well, almost all of it.

“Two or three times a year, we would jam for two, three days and record it, just to play,” Gonclaves says. “We started the process of the second album many times, but we never had the time to finish it until last year. Finally, it happened four years later; the stars were aligned.

“On [Let It All Out], we wanted to do more songs, make it more singable and accessible. The first album was more about texture and sound. So instead of jamming and making nice sounds, we tried to start with the songs and arrange the songs around those melodic ideas.”

As for Plaster’s live show, based on the abbreviated set I saw at M for Montreal earlier this month, it’s a blast to the ears and face. Gonclaves describes it as “more energetic” than before, “headbanging” even. But fans of Plaster 1.0 should know that they haven’t entirely lost touch with their roots. “In a way, we’re different but the same. We still have this ambition to make people dance and have a good time.” ■

Plaster headline with support from Black Atlass at Club Soda on Thursday, Nov. 29, 8 p.m., $17/$22

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