“Where are you running now?” cries the title track of Powerplant’s upcoming Grass EP. “Running home” is the answer. After last year’s instrumental fantasy album Stump Soup, London-based quartet emerge from the dungeon and back to reality with a 5 track electronic punk album. The rigid march of drum machines is now more determined and powerful than ever.
Grass EP will be released 14th July via London’s Static Shock Records (Uranium Club, Sheer Mag, Chubby and The Gang, Warthog). Recorded in bedrooms with the closing song vocals tracked at East London’s music community hotbed Fuzzbrain Studio. Mastered by Andrew Oswald (SMIRK, Acrylics, Marbled Eye) in Los Angeles, California.
“It gets worse before it gets worse”, says bandleader Theo Zhykharyev, “I waited forever for things to get better and a perfect time to put out these songs, but judging from the trajectory of events – this is as good as it’s going to get.” With the same necessity to get out and make up for lost time, the EP opens its gates with title track “Grass” – a force of nature that charges into a dizzying riff, bridging into a crooning verse with a pompous backing. Powerplant’s catchy sensibilities and affection for intricate song structures is at the forefront with a hint of weirdness that is yet to come.
It’s followed by an unexpected and dark costume change on the second track “Broodmother” – an operatic and sinister Goblin-ASMR escapade, where the intro vocal fry is sufficient to cook your breakfast eggs on. The implied horror of the theatrical outro, infused with haunting field recordings, is a recipe for nights of lost sleep.
On the upbeat “Walk Around (Hang My Head)”, Zhykharyev yearns for change and commands himself to “breakout” from the rumination room in his head into the real world of action, encouraged by a hypnotising repetition of the track title, becoming its mantra.
“3 Medallions” is a quick industrial intermission, similar to a theme song of a video game’s loading screen. It builds anticipation before exploding into the EP’s rampant finale “Beautiful Boy” – a tale of pain and loss. All instruments growl in unison for the final release of energy. The synthesisers wail and bleed over the chorus, before cutting out entirely leaving the drum machine and Zhykharyev alone for Powerplant’s most intimate and heartfelt moment.
Grass EP serves as Powerplant’s fatalist manifesto against burning daylight spending time fruitlessly. Like an intrusive thought or a ghost, the theme of time passing, barges into every song, calling to action. Powerplant, like a converted believer, is here to guide you through.
Powerplant began in 2017 as a solitary bedroom project of Theo Zhykharyev, a few years after he came to London from Ukraine to study. Inspired by the DIY ethics of California’s garage-psych rockers Ty Segall and Thee Oh Sees, Zhykharyev started producing noisy experiments. Equipped with the bare minimum – drum machine and a synthesiser, he proceeded to finesse minimalist post-punk, generating dark energy reminiscent of Brooklyn’s, Suicide and released Dog Sees Ghosts EP and Quiet at Night EP on cassette. In the lead up to Powerplant’s first album, the focus shifted from making sonic roars to crafty songwriting
Debut LP, People in the Sun (2019) took the internet by storm when Harakiri Diat’s YouTube upload of the LP rallied tens of thousands of viewers in mere weeks. Scrollers were greeted by the cute and now iconic cover art, featuring a giddy paper cut-out of a smiling sun which welcomed all into a vivid 30 minute thrill ride. It mixed catchy and ethereal Gary Numan-esque synth melodies with addictive pouncing bass and personal yet relatable lyrics. The comfort of understanding the loneliness of nostalgia beams out of “Dungen”. The track became a musical safe haven, generating over one million Spotify streams. Four years after release, not only does People in the Sun stand the test of time, but it continues to connect and conquer hearts with its sonic and visual aesthetics. In the autumn of 2022, the album’s cover design along with the layout was plagiarised on a t-shirt design by Lazy Oaf, a trendy UK streetwear brand. Followed by an immediate revolt from the punk community taking Powerplant’s side, the design was swiftly taken down from their freshly announced collection.
In 2019 Powerplant grew into a full live band. Current all-star lineup consisting of London’s best Karim Newble (Island of Love), Cajm (Jeshi, John Glacier) and Lloyd Clipston (Arms Race, Permission). Last year, after a sold-out headline tour in Europe and Scandinavia, they hit the road with American hardcore-punks Show Me The Body, supporting them on the continent and in London. Earlier this year they shared the stage with Poison Ruin, Prison Affair and The Serfs.
With Grass EP, Zhykharyev has set out to pick up where he left off four years ago with People in the Sun. Home production antics return, but with a much tidier sound production that allows room for new instruments. The classic sizzling synthesisers are sharing space with cartoonish MIDI pianos, string orchestras and haunting choir sample. Zhykharyev’s developed vocal pallet, which he relentlessly draws from, conjures up a dazzling variety of moods for every track.
Grass EP is the long awaited return and a glimpse into Powerplant’s new beginning. The new songs are evidence to the more mature and dialled in Powerplant, signalling that London’s weirdest internet punks are in gear to deliver their best work yet.