Flux (5) ‎– Protoplasmic


Versions (2)

Cat# Artist Title (Format) Label Cat# Country Year
RR 6958-2 Flux (5) Protoplasmic(CD, Album) Release Entertainment RR 6958-2 US 1997 Sell This Version
none Flux (5) Protoplasmic(8xFile, MP3, Album, RE, 128) Release Entertainment none 2000


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May 21, 2012
referencing Protoplasmic, CD, Album, RR 6958-2
OLD guitarist JAMES PLOTKIN's solo venture into a more commercially-accessible land manages to be both musically structured in a Pop sense while being both intense listening and hard-hitting. Whether the force of this album is through studio technique or compositional prowess depends on the listener's point of view. Curiously enough, from the very first listen it struck me as being a bastard offspring of "My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts", the BRIAN ENO / DAVID BYRNE milestone album of 1981. Okay, so it most definitely lacks that album's subtlety, but has the same manic intensity. PLOTKIN should be bloody proud of himself, as this pushes boundaries in the region of almost hysterical guitar playing and a rhythmic attitude which tries to trip you over in it's strict anti-4/4 approach. "Hollow Spaces" has such a bright, flashing, dazzling sound to it - reminding me of the music GLASS uses to portray teeming city streets in COPPOLA's "Koyaanisqatsi" turned into a seductive, if crazy full-frontal overdriven pop music. The intensity hardly ever abates - even on quieter passages it waits at bay, ready to leap out like some psycho-mad hunter stalking his prey. This is music which could only be made by someone who had been born into the hustle & bustle of a thriving metropolitan concentration of humanity. If PLOTKIN aimed at a specific sound, it was at dazzling brass sections, and on the few occasions he misses, he walks into JOHN ZORN's wildcat territory. Difficult to compare easily with anything else. The mix seems to put every sound forward - I feel inclined to say louder than life. It's in-yer-face, big, brassy and braves new terrain.

Originally reviewed for Soft Watch.


March 2, 2012
referencing Protoplasmic, CD, Album, RR 6958-2

A curious but rewarding album, Flux isn't quite James Plotkin's art pop effort, but it's hard to think of it in any other light. With production shared between Plotkin and friend/regular collaborator Mick Harris of Scorn/Lull fame, Flux features Plotkin's angular guitar work and experimental rhythms in combination with spoken/sung vocals from Ruth Collins. The opening song, "Patterns of Traffic," calls to mind early Siouxsie and the Banshees with an emphasis on recitation instead of singing, which more or less sets the pattern for the remainder of the album. Consisting of eight generally lengthy numbers, Protoplasmic isn't easy listening enough to simply be a pop effort straight out, but neither is it simple Plotkin's usual brand of mysterious atmospherics. One or two songs aside, the musical emphasis throughout is on tight, minimal rhythm loops and guitar figures, the latter high-pitched and spindly, which at points get treated with an extra layer of reverb or light additional arrangements. Further U.K. post-punk connections can easily be drawn from there -- Wire, the Durutti Column, Dif Juz, Cocteau Twins, and more are all called to mind, even the extreme noisefests of Throbbing Gristle toward the end. While some of the songs seem to abrade more than outright connect, others have an exultant, soaring air -- check the quick, jerky rhythms and soft backgrounds of "Hollow Spaces" for a good example. Collins' own vocal work prioritizes the spoken word over the sung -- the latter is saved for the most part for background atmospherics that increase the lushness of many songs. Her direct lines capture the flow of the songs just enough -- since the compositions are essentially repeating themselves, her words serve as a contrast to them, a reasonable balance. Plotkin's own vocal contributions get electronically treated for an intriguing robot overlay to the proceedings on tracks like "Light Fuse." ~ Ned Raggett

Magnet (11-12/97, pp.66-67) - "...Weaving reciprocal layers of short guitar riffs; gently soaring, sustained notes; and stuttered, circular drumming, he builds songs that lead to the edge of a progressive pop-rock mainstram while remaining entrenched in the realm of purposeful avant-garde exploration..."
Option (11-12/97, pp.95-96) - "...Flux infuses its factory rock with a sense of color notoriously lacking in bleakly laborious assembly-line romps....[Frontman James] Plotkin creates patterned soundscapes with abstract yet palpable force..."