Initial contact with Fields may lead one to believe it’s the work of an A+ grad student at one of America’s finest music colleges. On discovering the album’s creator won’t be able to legally drink for another decade, one might wince at the thought of one’s own paltry 11-year-old feats—even if those armpit farts were pretty inspired. Meanwhile, Henry Plotnick sounds like he’s ready for the concert hall.
The structural and dynamic sophistication at play in Fields—the way melodic beauty gyres within rigorous academic / minimalist strictures, the manner in which perilous, mordant atmospheres are conjured—are astounding for any musician, age be damned. Seemingly under the spell of Terry Riley’s mesmerizing classic In C, Plotnick engineers ingenious strategies for mental liftoff. It’s as if he’s absorbed the principles and techniques of the 20th-century American minimalist-composer pantheon and injected them with a zeal for greater instrumental complexity and melodic flamboyancy. The two longest tracks on Fields take the listener highest, suggesting that Plotnick is more of a marathon-runner than a sprinter.
Just as those who observed LeBron James on the court as a high-school sophomore could predict his NBA superstardom, anyone who hears Fields will be stirred to imagine future concert-goers rendered agog by Plotnick’s phenomenal prowess. Get in on the ground floor of what promises to be a skyscraper of rarefied sonic inventiveness.