October 22, 2004

point line plane 'smoke signals'

Last year, Point Line Plane's self-titled debut really impressed me. I raved about their wonderfully fun screamy parts, their entertainingly weird, robotic new wave noise parts and their general devil-may-care attitude that vibrated through their music. Even though the music was far from a bold statement of artistic genius, Point Line Plane thumbed its nose at the oft uber-serious noise-rock scene. As silly and noisy and fun as Point Line Plane may have been, It wasn't hard to hear that the band have a talent that runs deeper than their music would lead you to believe. Secretly, though, I worried; it didn't seem like the band's style would translate into anything more than one fun album. I wondered if they would find a way to mature their style without losing the elements that make their music enjoyable.

Smoke Signals, their second album, isn't that grand statement, but it's certainly a step in that direction. Gone are the loud screaming blasts of noise has been replaced with a refined focus on mellower--almost gentle--ambient waves of sound. The band's expanded sound isdue to the addition of a third party, Howard Gillam. This isn't the only change to the band's style, though. The singing has gone from insane yelling to a nearly gothic/blues-based croon, not unlike a more disturbed Gary Numan. Point Line Plane's restraint and maturity over their previous records is reminiscent of Black Dice's transformation from screamo/grindcore to electronica. True, some elements of the band's past remain--check out "Descender" and "Adult Contempt" for those moments, but throughout the rest of the album--such as on the lovely "The Messenger" and "B.U.G.S."--you could be forgiven for thinking this wasn't Point Line Plane at all! So, I'm happy.

The final song on Smoke Signals, "Lights Out II," is a number that's brief, but it gives hope for their future. It's a mellow instrumental, with a gentle, repetitive rhythm. It's somewhat Eno, somewhat Low-era Bowie, and it's not really like the rest of Smoke Signals, either. If expanded by more than the 1:36 time length, Point Line Plane could easily take their music into beautiful galaxies that are far, far away from anything they've done before, and this little snippet shows that such an adventure would more than likely be quite worthwhile.

--Joseph Kyle

Artist Website: http://www.pointlineplane.net
Label Website: http://www.skingraftrecords.com

No comments: