Reincarnation always seemed like a stupid concept to me: First you have to do your time as a gas, then as an animal, and then you have to do the human thing until you get it right. It's supposed to take a while.
But there are bands out there--like Point Line Plane--that make reincarnation look easy, like they've gotten it right the first time.
Point Line Plane apparently developed their musical soul six times over before they hit the Portland scene two years ago. Thrashing out danceable art-punk packed into two-minute songs, they won attention spanning to New York. They toured tirelessly--more than the typical hard-working Portland band--playing alongside art rockers like Deerhoof and Erase Errata.
Common comparisons to Point Line Plane's sound are all over the map, usually citing the sassy strut dance-noize of Ex Models or the thrashing spasticity of Lighting Bolt. (The affinity is weak, considering Point Line Plane is comprised of only drums in an otherwise synth majority.) Regardless, Point Line Plane have managed to saliently define their sound, with meandering formats that remain ass-moving, all while projecting an intellectual edge.
Their sophomore full-length, Smoke Signals, marks another reincarnation of Point Line Plane's sound that is executed without hesitation or apology. Howard Gillam has joined the ranks of Nathan Carson and Joshua Blanchard, contributing synth and noise on an album that surprisingly escapes the typical dilution of newly-added input or instrumental layering. Smoke Signals exudes a matured character that has paused, taken a deep breath, and settled into a more fastidious craftsmanship.
Abandoning their trademark two-minute tracks--a phenomenon that has recently been run into the ground by art rock/punk--Smoke Signals' tracks boast five- and six-minute lengths beautifully without sacrificing efficiency. The exploding double-kick-riddled energy that seemed endless on their previous self-titled release is dimmed, in favor of entrancing vocoder poetry and patiently hovering synth. Most importantly, the album preserves Blanchard's shrilly vocal chants that God blessed him with. This album may not be what PLP's small but devoted following would expect, but it may be what they were hoping for.