Armond Arabshahi, or Unlike Pluto, is not your average electronic artist. He plays the drums, piano, lead guitar and clarinet, mixing tracks and adding his own vocals with ease at his home studio in Los Angeles.
Before his break away from the music industry, Arabshahi was signed to Monstercat in 2016, releasing tracks like “Waiting for you,” feat. Joanna Jones and “Someone New” feat. Desi Valentine. In 2016, he was also included in Billboard’s “Dance Artists to Watch” list.
Arabshahi’s fifth studio single, “Everything Black” feat. Mike Taylor, garnered 20 million streams on Spotify. With its strong bass, jazzy undertones and rapid tempo, it’s the ideal song to blast in your car speakers with the windows all the way down.
Following his “Everything Black” tour, Arabshahi began to grow weary of only producing EDM (electronic dance music) tracks, believing they lacked the authenticity toward which he aspired. He’d spent most of his time creating accompaniment for others, straying from the spotlight. Towards the end of 2017, when he made the decision to leave the record label, he set up his DIY studio and challenged himself to put out a new song each week. He stayed inside for days, working up a storm. In 2019, Pluto Tapes Vol. 1-3 were released as an accumulation of his weekly songs.
The songs in each album seamlessly switch between genres, freeing him from the constraints of categorization. His vocals are raw and genuine, each lyric plucked straight from his soul. The immense versatility invites a wide array of tastes and musical preferences.
“First Generation,” from Vol. 1, is one of my favorite tracks. Despite this song being very doom and gloom, the power behind the vocals is what grabbed my attention. His voice has a soft, melancholic nature to it from the start as he reminisces about his relationship with his parents. But as the chorus nears and the song gains momentum, his vocals ring out in a desperate plea to make his parents proud, despite all the obstacles he’s faced. The chorus erupts into an epic symphony of thumping bass, distorted guitar and some unnerving background vocals which paint a clear picture of someone in distress.
In Vol. 2, “Illusion” has been my go-to. In the chorus, the track quickly switches from light, falsetto vocals over playful instrumentals to a steady pulse of snare, synth for ambience and a matter-of-fact tone. He seems to be going through a crisis, unable to differentiate between fiction and reality and ultimately surrendering to both.
Vol. 3 has a definite hidden gem: “Revenge and a Little More.” With vocals seeming to get more intense as the song goes on, the song is as suspenseful as a good thriller. Despite this, it manages to remain mellow and has an excellent instrumental backing of fingerstyle guitar, which sounds more like Italian folk music than anything else.
A few other honorable mentions from his volumes are as follows:
“Canada.” This song is a light-hearted retelling of his trip to Canada. The track features light and airy vocals and old timey swing vibes. (Vol. 1)
If you are looking for heavier tracks, “Cruel,” “Mosh Pit,” “Death of Me” and “Yes, Offense” are only a few examples of the perfect embodiments of rock music merged with electronic. (Vol. 1 and 2)
“Sin Circus:” an eerie track which caters best to those who like experimental music. The chorus is less an instrumental breakdown and more an array of weird sounds and foot tapping rhythms. This song always makes me think of the mice circus scene from the movie Coraline. (Vol. 3)
“Everything about Nothing:” In a sea of gloom, this track brings light. It speaks of not caring what anyone else thinks and just living your life. It's calming, catchy and great for night drives, or for those days when you just want to lie in bed all day and do nothing. (Vol. 3)
As of March 2020, Arabshahi has returned to releasing weekly tracks every Wednesday and has started releasing weekly Lo-Fi tracks as well on Fridays under the name “Like Saturn.”