Plaster Cast, which currently features members split across the country, can trace their origins back to when producer Alex Esk started the project with vocalist Cameron Wilson back in 2011 — while both were studying video art at UC San Diego. Wilson’s sister Michaela Lustig joined the project as a second vocalist. Producer/engineer Brah1m joined the band after meeting Esk, when they both worked for The Real Housewives.
And with that lineup, the members of Plaster Cast wrote and recorded their debut EP, 2016’s Permanence, which received critical praise from Gorilla vs. Bear, The Fader, Vice, and BBC Radio. Adding to a breakthrough year for the outfit, EP which featured “Sunless,” a melancholic, downtempo pop song centered around Wilson and Lustig’s uncanny harmonizing and a warped beyond recognition Adele sample, and “Undecided,” which featured Foxes in Fiction appeared on a number of year-end lists.
The project’s sophomore EP Control is slated for release tomorrow. Understandably, informed by the vast changes of the sociopolitical climate that have occurred since 2016’s Permanence, Control EP thematically is a large, perceptive grown towards modernity with the EP’s material touching on various concepts of individualism vs. collectivism, intimacy vs. alienation, and the self-consciousness of empathy — but in an understated, largely philosophical fashion.
The EP also sees a deeper sense of collaboration between the project’s core members, inspired by the insight that relinquishing one’s own ideas can provide both empowerment and diminishment simultaneously. And as a result, the EP reportedly feels more like a group of friends in a personal therapy session, in which all their collective fears, joys and uncertainties are shared in a way that touches upon a more expansive reflection of the human condition.
The material is rooted within the intersection of warmth and isolation — and the band’s desire to acknowledge their own literal and symbolic closeness and distance, shaped by each member’s own reality. “The songs are connected by themes of remoteness and looking at relationships as a negotiation of what you get and what you give up,” Plaster Cast’s Wilson explains. “Ultimately the work of looking at your place in your relationships is worth the pain it can cause, as we are useless alone.”
But ultimately, the central theme at the heart of Control is the relinquishment of control in one’s life: The control of our thoughts, the control over the circumstances and impermanence of life, the control over a world that’s often confusing, uncertain and mad. And paradoxically through relinquishing control — and the possibility of it — there often comes a sense of great mindfulness and calm.
Last month, I wrote about EP single “Waves.” Beginning with an ethereal introductory section featuring dreamily cooed vocals and atmospheric synths, the song around the 25 second mark quickly ramps up to become a relentless, disco-tinged, motorik groove-driven bop with mournful synth pads and an infectious hook as a sinuous and lush bed for those dreamily delivered harmonies. While sonically bearing a resemblance to Chromatics and others, the song expresses an aching yearning for understanding and companionship in a desperate, uncertain moment.
The EP’s latest single , the dreamy and hazy “Videotheque” much like its predecessor begins with a lullaby like introduction featuring strummed acoustic guitar paired with achingly vulnerable vocals that quickly morphs into a slickly productions club and lounge friendly, house music-like bop centered around layers of glistening synth oscillations, skittering beats and a breezy melody serving as a lush bed for dreamy boy-girl harmonies. But unlike its predecessor, the song thematically touches on the sense of dissociation, longing and ache that often comes from any relationship.
Shot by Cameron Wilson and Rachel Louie with assistance from Christopher Konecky at Hook Fabrication and edited by Cameron Wilson, the lyric video features the members in a glitchy VHS haze, which adds to the song’s dreamy and hazy air.