I am sad to report the death of Damian Bisciglia. He took his own life earlier this week. He was only 52 years old, but leaves behind a great legacy of work.
I first became aware of Damian in the 1980s when a friend wrote his name and number on a piece of paper for me. He mentioned Points of Friction and thought we should meet each other. At that time I did have the nerve to call people out of the blue. So it wasn’t until several years later that I got in touch with Damian. I knew of his work as Agog and his visual art from the cover to Randy Greif’s “Bacteria and Gravity” LP released by RRRecords. I think it was probably through Randy that I first heard Agog as I got the “Putting Legs on a Snake” cassette from him.
The music of Agog was homemade musique concrete – amazing tape collages. It was really outstanding work that stood above a lot of what was coming out of the cassette culture at that time. Damian’s work was superbly recorded and edited, and lovingly packaged. The packaging in a way was his downfall as he spent so much effort on it, that he made few copies of the cassettes on his own Spagyric label. The only cassette that was easily available was a split cassette with Zan Hoffman published by N D magazine in 1990. He also did a cassette for the legendary Broken Flag label, but it was towards the end of their first run and very few copies seem to have been made of that either. Probably the most heard was the Agog track on the five 7″ box set edition of RRRecords’s “Testament” series. His own cassettes reached fewer and fewer people over the years as his packaging grew more and more elaborate. Visiting him at his parent’s house in the late 1990s, I was blown away by the creature sculptures that he was showing me. My amazement increased as he split them open to show me the cassettes that lived inside of them.
With so little available and such high quality, I wanted to do what I could to share his music. It ended up being a three year project, but I was able to release the only Agog LP on Anomalous Records in 2001. By the end of that year I was able to reissue one of the Points of Friction cassettes on CD. Both were very special releases for me. They didn’t sell particularly well, but represented what “anomalous” meant to me.
But I am failing to mention Damian’s work as an improvisor. He was a collector of junk materials and built his own instruments and sculptures. At times he would put himself down for only having these non-instruments. Perhaps this contributed to his shyness towards performing. I only saw him perform in front of an audience once. That was at Anomalous Records in 1994 in a duet with Joseph Hammer. Need I even say that it was amazing? His association with Joseph went all the way back the beginning of the 1980s when Points of Friction was formed with Kenny Ryman and Tim Alexander. After the group broke up, he worked mostly solo, but did collaborate through the post with Minoy, Adam Bohman, Johannes Bergmark, and Zan Hoffman. In recent years Mitchell Brown roused him to more activity helping encourage the reformation of Points of Friction and releasing a new CD of their music.
Damian’s music and art remains little heard and known for the most part. I congratulate Mitchell Brown, Fredrik Nilsen, Dylan Nyoukis, Seymour Glass, Hitomo Arimoto, Ron Lessard, Eric Blevins, Zan Hoffman, Daniel Plunkett, and the others that helped get bits of his music into the world. I hope that his music does not disappear with his passing.
Earlier this year, Points of Friction played for the first time in a few years. Damian was excited about the event and excited about music in general. I got the impression that he was ramping up for more activity. Obviously there were other things that troubled him though. His life has sadly been cut short. I am thankfully for all that he gave us and will miss him.
Thank you Mitch for passing along this sad news. Thank you Nils for first pointing me in Damian’s direction all those decades ago. Thank you Randy for helping me pick up that thread. Thank you Joseph for all you did.
|Long standing cassette culture figure Don Campau sent me this link to his words about Agog including a download of the music.
|Dylan Nyoukis has reposted my words and added a few of his own with the bonus of an audio clip of a track that he and Damian did together via the post.