5 out of 5
Label: Perishable Records
Produced by: HiM
Would I be a big HiM fan if the first record I’d heard was Egg, or, say, Many in High Places? Sure, maybe, but I think I’d likely have needed a more attentive ear to get past the relative genre affectations of each of those. Our Point of Departure was where I started, and although no other HiM album sounds quite like this one – they are mostly distinct, until the post High Places albums – it’s what got me on key man Doug Scharin’s side, pretty much for good. Stitched together from various sessions and manipulated / enhanced to sound like a one-take set – excepting some clear chops and scribbles on the last track – Our Point of Departure opened up my ears to quite a bit: to not brushing off jazz as ‘not for me’; to reconsider how post rock luminaries could fit into other genres without it sounding like a retreat into more accessible fare; to better appreciate what a drummer can bring to a recording besides, like, wailing on a drumkit.
I mean, yes, Departure opens up with the non-stop beat of Arrival, but Scharin – across all the HiM discs, and very much here as well – knows how to lead and how to be led, allowing for the horns and bass on that opener to slip and slide this thing between funk and jazz. Liberation Part I dips into dub, and up to this point we can sort get on board with this as just being a badass jam recording of some skilled players, and then Liberation Part II starts in with the deeper and darker embellishments, keying us in to a thought behind the design of the album. Third Wish picks up this trend and strips it down into echoes and a somber, sad pace, before Weary Not Beaten – fittingly titled – twists this into a surging, building rhythm, with closer Persistent Life coming around to Arrival’s sense of momentum, though now tainted with all sorts of awesome, off-timed sounds.
It’s a journey. And one that’s incredibly easy to take over and over, given how it offers a nice range of volume and emotion throughout, with seamless mixing from Scharin (and however that was complemented by also-drummer Brian Deck). From here on out I just wanted to hear anything Doug was the ringleader of, open to his later appreciation of world music and whatever else caught his fancy, and beyond that, to, for example, more jazz in my collection. But you never forget your first, of course, and relistening to this now (not that that’s a rarity…) I love that it’s not a lark: Our Point of Departure is as awesome now as it was upon release.