Points Of Friction - "Sackcloth And Ashes"
(Anomalous Records 2001, NOM10, originally released on cassette in 1984 by Solid Eye)
Uploaded to Aural Innovations: March 2004
Points Of Friction was formed in 1981 by a group of childhood and college friends who wanted to create improvisational noise and sound constructions. The quartet consisted of Tim Alexander, Damian Bisciglia, Joseph Hammer and Kenny Ryman, and released several cassettes in the 1980's. The band also performed live, utilizing their music as the backdrop for slide and film images projected on up to four different screens. Sackcloth And Ashes was originally released in 1984 and reissued on CD by Anomolous Records in 2001.
There's lots of fun and very interesting sounds to be heard here. We've got whimsical party time gloms of alien electronics, and several tracks give the impression that this is a Best Of collection of 1950's science fictions wildest soundtrack moments. But there are also darker and more haunting pieces which are equal parts space voyage and theater narrative. "Skara Brae" is a standout track which combines a simplistic video game melody with dark proggy keyboard lines that sound like something out of a John Carpenter flick. For the most part Points Of Friction are deep in space, but it's a crazed and often intense world where Klaus Schulze battles with The Residents to see who can exert the most influence, while Stockhausen referees from the sidelines. "Rhomboid Ladies" is a bit different, exploring Fripp & Eno styled territory, an influence that crops up a couple more times throughout the set.
Most of the tracks are in the 2-4 minute range, though we are treated to a couple of lengthy stretch-out tracks. The 15 minute "Sackcloth And Ashes" is one of the more avant-garde works on the CD, beginning with a banquet of sounds that seem to be the backing track for a chorus of abused dogs in a kennel. But soon the K-9 cries morph into a sort of chamber noise ensemble, which quickly transitions to a ride across the harsher bands of the shortwave radio dial, later exploring the colder, unexplored regions of space, and playing around in Fripp/Eno territory again. The music moves through a variety of themes, sometimes switching abruptly, but always ending up somewhere interesting. "Raking Light" is the other longish track, being something of a collage piece that draws on Residents and other experimental influences. Lots of good ideas but it didn't keep my attention as well as "Sackcloth And Ashes" did.
Overall, the set includes a wealth of very interesting and creative off-the-beaten-path space adventures. Certainly better than much of the similar music I receive from current artists. Among the upcoming Points Of Friction releases will be a remastering of their first cassette release, 1982, as well as plans to release some archive material. The band also plan to remaster for DVD their sole video release. Should be interesting.
For more information you can visit the Anomalous Records web site at: http://www.anomalousrecords.com.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz