By design, the fourth full length release by HIM does really amazing structural and temporal work, with its six tracks that are at once discrete and fluid. The first few seconds of the album establish thoughtful repetition, pacing and disruption with percussion. That rhythm and arrhythmia is maintained and reproduced throughout the duration of the record with the instrumentation (tenor sax, trumpet, bass, guitar, keyboards, electronics and much drumming) and range of textures at the intersection of improvisation and painstaking production. It might seem like an obvious choice to play Our Point of Departure super loud, but turning down the volume actually highlights many lovely and nuanced sounds.
The forms and phrases employed by HIM work in a way which is aptly illustrated by the cover art; concentric circles radiating outward from slightly off center. Whether it is their hyperbole or my own, HIM demonstrates that one can go far without coming unhinged from a point of departure. Because of this structuring principle, the record becomes increasingly engaging as more distance gets logged from the beginning of the record. The latter half of Our Point of Departure is marked by longer breaths and spaces. This is particularly the case on the melancholic “Third Wish.” The track features the most subtle guitar sounds of the recording, a move which compensates for a few overprocessed moments that come in the first half of the album.
Drawing from a range of influences and styles, this record poses a number of semantic challenges. Due in part to the other projects in which members of HIM are involved (The Sorts, June of 44, Sonora Pine, and Golden) a set of expectations precedes the listening. Listeners who don’t know or don’t care about playing Six Degrees of [insert indie totem here] should know that Our Point of Departure exceeds record store small talk like you will not believe. Indeed, the band constitutes a supergroup, but it is only super insofar as the band members are known to those who have been listening in particular regional and generic bandwidths. A supergroup, per definition, is a hybrid or mutation, and for those looking for a site on which to perform an excavation of sonic genealogies, this is a rich record.