Essential New Music: Plankton Wat’s “Future Times”

Future Times was born of a dire present. Plankton Wat is the solo project of guitarist Dewey Mahood (ex-Eternal Tapestry, Galaxy Research), a longtime fixture on the headier side of Portland, Ore.’s music scene. Last spring, he watched his town descend into chaos as protesters faced off against cops, and both the irregular and federal agents of our ex-president’s ill will roved the streets, spreading insecurity and chaos. Even the air turned hostile as forest fires blanketed the whole West Coast with smoke and ash. Against this backdrop, Mahood did what he could: He made an album. 

Parts of the instrumental LP seem like a soundtrack to the chaos. Protesting guitar leads flash dimly through the murk on “The Burning World,” and acidic electronics add to the foreboding of “Dark Cities.” The title track is a maelstrom of feedback fit to accompany nightmarish vision.

But while some songs depict calamity, others strive to transcend. The multi-layered electric guitars on “Nightfall” track ever-upward, and the drizzling keyboard tones and mellotron flutes on “Modern Ruins” bring to mind the new growth that always comes up after walls fall down. “Wind Mountain” amplifies that hard-earned optimism with a liberally echoed brass fanfare that holds out hope that the future might not be so bad after all.

—Bill Meyer