Based in Southampton, British alternative rock band Ko_Plune is comprised of Carl Edwards (guitar), Jack Hill-Jones (bass), Courtney Gray (vocals, keys and synth), and Guy Anderson (drums). Released earlier this year, their debut EP Auditory Atlas introduces their smooth yet rocking sound to the stages of Europe and North American indie audiences alike. Categorized as everything from jazz, to experimental, to progressive, Auditory Atlas melds sweet melodies and wicked chemistry to make for one hell of a promising debut.
The first track “Rare Error” illustrates Gray’s soft, crooning voice while providing an example of the impressive audio canvas painted by the three gentlemen behind her. The length of the track leaves room for a solid but slow-moving progressive jam to break up what would otherwise have been a pretty, but relatively simple, pop song. Anderson’s drums crash throughout its entirety, while Edwards and Hill-Jones have their fun outside the more structured moments. The second track “Panda” starts in a similar manner as “Rare Error,” and it too contains glimmering hints of their abilities. This is the first track where you get a sense of just how well Anderson can drum. He nails not just any old rock drumming, but also a more jazz influenced sound, and Edwards perfectly matches this tone with his bluesy riffs. It is about here that I began to worry that, while Gray has a beautiful voice, Auditory Atlas perhaps lacks any real moments where she pushes herself out of the box that the EP threatens to place her in.
The third track “Red” is the heaviest on the EP, and while it doesn’t diverge too far from the rest, it stands as a further testament to just how solidly Anderson, Hill-Jones, and Edwards anticipate and beautifully contrast one another. It is the fourth track “Hydra” however, that is the best example of Gray’s voice. Here, her jazzy crooning proves my earlier suspicions wrong, making this the stand out track for me. As she harrowingly sings, “You’ll never be my friend” over and over, this track sounds more like something from the enchanting female experimental band Warpaint, and it works.
The final track “Machiatto” opens with spacey sounds reminiscent of The Doors’ famous “Riders on the Storm.” This track is no doubt the group at their best. Anderson again opts for more traditional jazz beats; Edwards is funky yet subtle; and Hill-Jones ties the two together with a solid bass line.
While there are certainly moments of brilliance throughout Auditory Atlas, as a whole, it strikes me as being perhaps a bit too clean and pretty. This isn’t to say it is by any means bad – I’m sure there is a demographic of listeners who will very much enjoy the album – just that for me, Ko_Plune would do well to push themselves further out of the pretty auditory box that is Auditory Atlas.
Written by Jordan Hodgins
*edited by Kate Erickson