A review from Alternative Press:
| 8 (out of 10) | Ambient love songs for a broken heart. Michael Plaster (a.k.a. Soulwhirlingsomewhere) has taken ownership of a unique kind of love song. Instead of writing the usual "I love you/I miss you" brand of trite pop tunes, Plaster burrows deep within himself to deliver poetic confessionals about his own doomed relationships. Measured and heartfelt piano, synth and guitar echo with an ambient, Eno-like despondency, and the lyrics speak quietly of desire and the seeming futility of love. The two instrumental tracks, especially, resonate with feelings of love that survive only in memory. The dark beauty of this album lies in its artistry, and whether you broke up with someone 10 minutes ago or 10 years ago, you'll find Please Sennd Help perfect for wallowing. - Mark Burbey
A review from HX Magazine:
From gothic/shoegazer label Projekt comes the fourth release by delicately swirly pop outfit Soulwhirlingsomewhere, aka Michael Plaster. Inspired by a multitude of relationships "jumped into too quickly," this round of dreamy songs signal musical maturity for the artist – previous albums’ somewhat cliché buzzy, fuzzy electronics and guitars have grown into thoughtful ethereal notes and more natural-sounding instrumentation, while melody and gleams of melancholy remain. Think David Sylvian, slug some honey wine, run the bath warm and lose yourself in this soul’s whirling. - Lawrence Ferber
If you're a hopeless romantic who still loves every other who has ever been significant to you, for an hour or a lifetime, no matter how bad they hurt you (or you them), then Please Sennd Help is for you. Equal parts beauty and melancholy, like all of Michael Plaster's work as SoulWhirlingSomewhere, Please Sennd Help is an achingly lovely, tear-stained, torn and rumpled map to the lost territory of hope on the far shores of despair. Most songs start with heartbreakingly fragile piano or slow-strummed acoustic guitar, soon joined by shimmering synth, muffled electronic percussion, and Michael's heart on his sleeve, exquisitely expressive vocals. The lyrics show an incredible sensitivity -- to the scent of lipstick on a note kissed years ago, the tiny stutter of breath in the troubled sleep of the person sleeping next to you, a quirky smile fluttering at the edge of someone's lips. And so does the music, even in its tiny "errors," such as two keys struck on the piano instead of one, that make the songs seem that much more human and vulnerable. Although Please Sennd Help does come out of several years' worth of relationships entered too quickly and ended too soon, it has a strong undercurrent of strength and perseverance that makes it feel hopeful rather than despairing. This comes as something of a relief after the incredible searing pain and emotional exhaustion of SoulWhirlingSomewhere's last album, Hope Was, which felt a bit like listening to an open wound bleed. This time the musical experience is more complex, and rewarding. I love the whole album, right down to the closing thirteenth track, "I give up. Goodbye.," on which "goodbye" is repeated so often it becomes hello -- not so much a final ending as a walking away to allow for new beginnings. But my favorite is the first track, an instrumental called "The Wedding." Four of the tracks on Please Sennd Help are instrumentals, and I think they're some of the best, partly because music often does a better job than words at expressing emotions. "The Wedding" begins with reverberating, lonely piano, reflective and infinitely sad, questioning not just what went wrong, but whether anything went right. Deep, throbbing percussion comes in next, muffled heartbeats exploding like bombs in the night. Then tympani and electronic percussion arrive, making the track faster and more rhythmic, more alive, as if remembering the happy times, the laughter and sunshine, while strummed guitars give texture and depth. Suddenly everything is stripped down to dark piano again; a recurring realization that the good times are over. But then the guitars and percussion return again too, like golden light suffusing the scene, the seesawing musical direction reflecting perfectly the way memories of lost loves run hot and cold. "The Wedding" ends with a sense of hushed, breathless expectation, synth waves shifting and shimmering like a desert mirage, the past as unreal and uncertain as the future, and just as potentially wonderful (or terrible). - Dave Aftandilian
It is really a wonderful record. Even my son Ian (19 months old) is crazy about it. It was a real pleasure to review this work: a great and sensitive music in a very nice artwork. Une véritable dissection de l'âme avec mise à nu de ses blessures: les relations finissantes, l'éloignement, l'absence, le souvenir… et, en guise de conclusion, cette déclaration implacable et sans appel "This world is nothing. So, goodbye", tel est en substance le propos de ce disque, quatrième œuvre chez PROJEKT de Michaël PLASTER, artiste solitaire caché derrière SoulWhirlingsomewhere. Si le ton général de l'album est sombre, "Please Sennd Help" reste malgré tout un disque à l'écoute particulièrement agréable et reposant, puisqu'on n'y trouve nulle trace de colère, de douleur criante ou de pathétisme théâtral. Au contraire, par une musique à la fois simple et raffinée, et par un chant doux et profond, M. PLASTER pratique avec brio l'art de la douce tristesse et du désespoir élégant. Accompagnée au piano ou à la guitare sur un fond musical électronique, chaque chanson est un regard sur un épisode de sa vie personnelle faisant de ce CD une véritable psychanalyse musicale. Cette œuvre, éminemment personnelle, entre dark-wave et ambient, avec parfois quelques très légers accents jazzy, devrait plaire à tout qui accorde de l'importance à la sincérité d'un artiste.
Translated by Michelle Rowley 10/10/2001
A true soul-dissection with wounds laid bare: ended relationships, separation, absence, memory... and, in something like a conclusion, the harsh declaration to which there is no response "This word is nothing. So, goodbye", lies, in substance, the intent of this album, the fourth work on Projekt records of Michael Plaster, the solitary artist hidden behind SoulWhirlingSomewhere. If the general tone of the album is somber, Please Sennd Help is nevertheless still a particularly pleasant and relaxing listen, since there isn't a trace of anger, flagrant sadness, or theatrical pathos. On the contrary, with music at the same time simple and refined, and with soft and profound vocals, M. Plaster brilliantly practices the art of gentle sadness and elegant dispair. Accompanied by the piano or guitar on a foundation of electronic music, each song is a glance upon an episode in his personal life making this CD a true musical psychoanalysis. This work, eminently personal, between dark-wave and ambient, at times with some very light jazz accents, should be appreciated by everyone who agrees on the importance of an artist's sincerity.
A review from Sideline Magazine (Belgium):
The new SoulWhirlingSomewhere CD is probably my favorite Projekt release this year. The tracks are beautiful mesmerizing tales that send a rich feeling; it's one of those CD's that will be hard to take out of your CD changer. "The Wedding" is dark, yet tender with very wholesome piano work. It is a great lead into the CD. "The Wedding" is just the beginning of the over one hour CD. "Nani" again focuses on piano but Michael Plaster's vocals are light and raspy that enhanced the music. "Aileron" follows the same style, light piano and slowly brings in the light drum beat and a hallucinating melody. This is one of the best songs on the CD. So far, the lyrics have had a personal touch and seem to be sincere. The real highlight of this CD is "Stutter when you Sleep." The drumming is a little more reinforced, but it is the main melody with the use of guitar behind the drums and vocals that brings this song to the highest level of performance. The song sounds carefree. "Box" has the most upbeat programming and I liked the echo sound on the vocals, and in a way has the strongest feel. I also like the fade out at the end of the song. "I give up, good-bye" brings the album full cycle with crisp vocals while the music tends to be more upbeat at the same time where it leads you where ever you want to go. Once again, this is a remarkable work, and is one of this year's best releases from Projekt. (JJ:7) jj.
The story of "boy meets girl, girl screws boy over, boy gets over it" has been set to music more times than I care to imagine. Nevertheless, through the eyes of Michael Plaster, aka Soul Whirling Somewhere, it sounds like a tender, painfully fresh wound. Over the course of thirteen touchingtracks, Plaster reminds us of the human story at the center of this common theme. This is no easy feat, but by combining enveloping music with finely poetic lyrics, Plaster succeeds.
Musically subdued, the songs play out slowly. Combining gently strummed acoustic guitar with atmospheric synthesizers and solitary electric guitar notes, melodies are more impressionistic than overt. This makes the occasional piano line stand out sharply, to wonderful effect. Similarly,when the deadpan drum pattern kicks in during the final minutes of "Nani", the simple tap takes on epic proportions. "You Stutter When you Sleep" also uses this trick, making it one of the album's most forceful tracks. Containing the simplest of drum patterns and a slight swell during the chorus, it still feels like it's rocking out, purely because of the contrast it makes to the surrounding tunes.
Despite the absorbing music, the lyrics add the emotional depth and continuity that helps listeners connect to the album. In "Nani", we are introduced to her, the love interest who will raise Plaster up and cast him down, forcing him to reinvent himself. Here, she asks, "So why don't you move here?" to which Plaster replies, "You know I'm just dumb enough to." This simple interplay tells so much about how deeply he has entered this whirlwind romance that it is unnecessary for him to add "Iattach to easily." In "You Stutter When You Sleep", we feel the depth of the sensation when he says, "I'd love to hear you breathe / things that don't last get glorified." This line also serves as to foreshadow the tragedy of "In On", in which the actual betrayal occurs.
After a period of sorrow, the album ends on a slightly hopeful note with "I Give Up. Goodbye." Although the title implies suicidal thoughts, Plaster instead calls for "God to restart me", and is thus sloughing off the past rather than bringing his future to an abrupt halt.
For some, the music's slow pace and the subject matter will prove off-putting. Others, however, will find in Plaster many of the same pleasures gleaned from listening to bands like Low. This type of music requires patience and empathy; it's not always easy to connect with a heart-wrenching, eight-minute-long song. Despite this measure of intractability, for those who are willing to invest the seventy-five minutes Please Sennd Help requires, the payoffs are marvelous. - Ron Davies
Matthew's Pick of the Month Soul Whirling Somewhere, the musical expression of one Michael Plaster, was one of the earliest outfits to appear on Projekt in the early 1990’s. When I first discovered the label, SWS never struck me quite as deeply as some of the other classic bands that made up the original roster. Perhaps it was that Michael’s music was a bit too on the mellow side for me, if that were at all possible. However, I think the stars were in favour of SWS’ latest work Please Sennd Help, as from the very first reverberated piano chord that opens this CD, the listener is as hooked as the pierced and pallid blossom on the cover of the disc. On Please Sennd Help, he has created is one of the top ten Romantic albums I have ever heard. He offers an extremely personal view into his own struggles with relationships, and he bares all his shortcomings, wounds, misfortunes, fleeting joys, and nervous hopes in the span of thirteen masterfully orchestrated songs. Somewhere, and lead me to perceive Michael’s music in a much more favourable light. Perhaps it is a case of ‘right CD/right mood’ but whatever the reason, I absolutely adore this CD and I recommend it to all hopeless lovers that have shed rivers of tears for the company of others, and constantly find themselves drowning in the end.
A review from The Guardian (UK):
The curiously spelt Please Sennd Help
is a collection of songs about a series of transitory relationships experienced by songwriter Michael Plaster. Writing and performing all the tracks himself, he reflects on his experiences of the past few years. Clearly a melancholy man, he is someone who thinks deeply about things and makes music that complements this.
The sentiment of "Nani" sums up Michael's position: "I attach too easily and it just leaves me empty." But he has taken these bad experiences and made emotionally affecting music. The pace is languid and FX-laden pianos mix with guitars and Michael's delicate half-whispered vocals to create an atmosphere of which David Sylvian would be proud. At other times he resembles the confessional angst of American Music Club. Sometimes it seems as if you are intruding into another man's grief, especially on "In On" where Michael sings: "I just want my friends right now."
If there are criticisms to be made it is that Michael's subject matter lacks variety, though this does mean that the album gels thematically. Listening to this CD on headphones makes the music even more intimate, sounding as if you and Michael are the only people in the world and that he is singing directly to you. Melancholy perhaps, but never self indulgent, the disappointments described here can be understood by anyone who has fallen into, and out of, love.
A review from The Sentimentalist:
All Love is Not Lost | Full of soft melodies which drift calmly through the air like ripples in a vast ocean, Michael Plaster's delicate voice and sensitivity rings true. This disc, for any familiar with some older 4AD works, is reminiscent of "Sleeps with Fishes," by Pieter Nooten and Michael Brook, with whispering vocals that are subtle, yet display an intense inner awareness. Sparse piano introduces "Salt Angel," a segway to "Shivering Fox," a gentle ballad with musings on a crush that never dissipates, with the tranquil vocal notes never rising above a muted utterance. "Box" is a darker, brooding track which brings in percussion, adding an interesting contrast to the sunlit afternoon musings of more blissful states of mind. Though it ends on a note of resignation and self-deprecation, the disc leaves one closer to a feeling of discovery. -- Maria Antigone Doiranlis and MVW