Take a look at the cover art for Plantoid’s debut album, the jazzy, prog-rock opus Terrapath. In a desolate, misty landscape, a massive half-vegetable, half-machine structure resembling a spaceship looms above figures shrouded in shadow. It’s weird and eerie, but it also ignites a feeling of wonder and nostalgia, like cracking open your favourite sci-fi novel as a kid. It harkens back to ‘70s rock artwork, where ornate fantasy scenes gaze back at you from dusty vinyl gatefolds—and yet it was created with the decidedly modern AI software Midjourney. In short, it’s the perfect visual for a band that is able to marry both the old and the new in a fresh and exciting way.
“Sometimes, when we play the record as a whole, it sort of feels like we're entering this universe that we've created,” says Chloe. “The sounds, the art, and where our minds go while we're playing the album takes us to this alien planet that no humans have reached.”
Musically, Plantoid’s cauldron harnesses multiple subgenres at once to concoct a sort of primordial soup, the molecules of which are built as much from progressive rock as they are jazz, fusion, folk, and even a bit of ‘70s hard rock for good measure. The band began as the brainchild of Chloe and Tom Coyne, who met while pursuing music courses at Lincoln College in their teens. Quickly united by a passion for eclectic psychedelic rock, and far-out, emotionally charged songwriting, they formed the band Mangö and started gigging around town with drummer Louis Bradshaw, who Tom had been friends with since secondary school.
After making a name for themselves locally, the three relocated to Brighton and recruited bassist Bernardo Larisch. Now a four-piece, and renamed Plantoid, the band were ready to dig even deeper into their shared influences, ranging from Miles Davis to Todd Rundgren, to Jeff Buckley, all the way around to the more acute experimental fare that gives Plantoid their razor-sharp edge.
Plantoid are one of those bands that exceed the sum of their parts, with each member bringing a unique flavour that enhances their sound tenfold. Tom has been playing guitar practically his whole life, and his style, which fluctuates from lush finger-picking to reverb-laden rock riffs, sits very comfortably on top of Louis’ jazz-infused drumming and Bernardo’s intricate basslines. The band find their ace-in-the-hole with Chloe, however—as well as serving as Plantoid’s principle lyricist, her soaring vocals, at times both angelic and alien, propel each song on Terrapath to new heights.
“Dog’s Life”, the first single which Plantoid released from the album, is a sonic voyage that pings from blissfully elated to shockingly heavy. “Dog’s Life represents a lot of what we do in one track,” states Tom. “From this psychotic heaviness, to the beauty of Chloe’s vocals, to the jazziness, it's kind of an all-rounder.”
New single “Pressure” showcases Plantoid’s total commitment to the sort of heavier rock that birthed their sound back when they met in school. It’s a big, bold song, and one that has already become a fan favourite in Plantoid’s epic live shows. “We’ve played it live a lot and it always gets a great reaction,” says Tom.
Terrapath’s closer, the ghostly “Softly Speaking”, is more indebted to atmospheric chamber pop than the band’s usual prog, and serves as a soul-nourishing palette cleanser to the album’s more raucous elements. That’s not to say that it shrinks into the background: in contrast to the song’s title, Chloe’s vocals pack an emotional wallop, alternating from measured harmony to guttural wail.
With this level of music aficionado detail, you’d think that Plantoid spent a lot of time in the studio getting things just right, but the reality is that they recruited producer Nathan Ridley to record almost the entire album live, with minimal overdubs, and the result is clear in the finished product. Terrapathsounds like you’re front row at a Plantoid gig, only one with the best sound imaginable.
Emotion, whether it be through their music, lyrics, or performances, is a large part of Plantoid’s creative impetus. Through all the crazy solos, elastic basslines, acrobatic vocals and supermassive drum beats, Terrapath is a story about finding yourself through the music you love. “In a way many of the songs on this album are about everything we’ve all amounted to in life at this point, lyrically and musically”, says Louis. “The album marks a new direction and a homage to our past selves.”