Earlier this year, I came across a band called Plato’s Dream Machine. On my first listen, I didn’t really know what to think of the band–but after some time spent listening to their catalogue, they started to grow on me. There was one thought, though, that I couldn’t shake from my mind: Where in the hell were these guys drawing inspiration from? Film director Quentin Tarantino’s quirky personality and oddball sense of humour could be an apt source for fodder, but even he is quite conventional compared to the band. In light of their unique electronic style, this Maltese band have managed to leave their mark on the local music scene of Malta, most efficiently executed on their debut album, Ghera.
The album was poetically pinned together by Robert Flores Farrugia, Justin Gales, Mark Abela, Francesco Sultana, and Samuel Grima after many years spent refining their sound. Although they’ve been alive and kicking in Malta for a good number of years, these boys got their start on the folk side of things. As folk music became a niche, however, the band felt they needed to take a step back and think about how they could approach their music differently, making it more authentic, more Maltese.
To do so, the band spent some time locked up in their garage slaving over their instruments and experimenting with different sounds to arrive at a rather unconventional final product. Under the guidance of acclaimed producer David Vella (Rammstein), the band packed eleven tracks into their debut album, which doesn’t seem to lie anywhere on the musical spectrum.
The nuanced album opener, “Fik,” makes use of an electronic clarinet, sending shivers down one’s spine with lyrics like, “I want to dissolve in the fire of your eyes everyday.” In the following track, the band pull a 180 with an upbeat rhythm that finds the band beating away on pieces of scrap metal. The album’s third track, “Temenza,” is a psychedelic little number that leans more towards conventional rock n’ roll than anything else. It isn’t until “Gnejna 4AM,” though, that we see the band really shine.
On the album’s B-side, the band really experiment with their sound, particularly on “Wicc.” The song, which can roughly be translated to the word “Face,” has an unmistakable gypsy vibe. The following track “Kollox Effimeru” is a playful electronic tune that relies heavily on synthesizers and beatpads. Between these eclectic tracks, though, the band throw in an instrumental piece for good measure. Finally, to close off the album, we’re given the adventurous, “Kimera.”
Plato’s Dream Machine have truly taken the Maltese music scene by storm this year: recently performing at Sofar Sounds in London, joining forces with British artist Tamu Massif on his cover of Lana Del Rey‘s “Born To Die,” and becoming the first alternative band to play at an Anglican church in Malta. After such a fruitful year, the boys have decided to pack up their bags and head back to their quarters to work on some new material. If Plato’s dreams were as mind-blowing as the band’s music, then the philosopher must’ve had his fair share of strange nights. Watch their Sofar Sounds performance below.