Disappears and FACS

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Disappears: Lux (2010), 6/10
Disappears: Guider (2011), 6/10
Disappears: Pre Language (2012), 4/10
Disappears: Era (2013), 5/10
Disappears: Irreal (2015), 5/10
Disappears: Disappears + Steve Shelley + White/Light (2020), 4/10
FACS: Negative Houses (2018), 6/10
FACS: Lifelike (2019), 5/10
FACS: Void Moments (2020), 5/10
FACS: Present Tense (2021), 4/10
FACS: Still Life In Decay (2023), 4/10

Brian Case left the Ponys to form the Disappears with drummer Graeme Gibson, guitarist Jonathan Van Herik and bassist Damon Carruesco. Lux (Kranky, 2010) contains the relentless garage-rock rave-up Pearly Gates and especially hypnotic songs halfway between the Velvet Underground and the Cramps like Magics and Marigold. If Gone Completely and Lux are a bit too derivative of Lou Reed's band, Old Friend weds that demonic boogie style with garage verve. Guider (2011) is mainly devoted to the 16-minute sax-driven Revisiting, a massive psychedelic hyper-boogie that sounds like Von Lmo covering the Velvet Underground's Sister Ray.

Sonic Youth's drummer Steve Shelley joined the Disappears for Pre Language (2012). The album is obsessed with Joy Division-era dark-punk (Replicate, All Gone White). Case seems to imitate Kim Gordon's vocals and Van Herik seems to imitate Lee Ranaldo's guitar in Hibernation Sickness, which otherwise sounds again more Velvet Underground than Sonic Youth. Alas, the songs are generally uninspired, and Shelley left the group after this album.

Era (2013) opens in grand style with the galactic and infernal garage-rock rave-up Girl but it's only an illusion. The rest is far from subdued. The nine-minute Ultra is a zombie litany over more or less industrial beats, and the similarly moribund eight-minute Elite Typical is a death dance. The album ends with the skeletal and oneiric New House, which is the exact opposite of the opener. The interplay is much more sophisticated, and the song structures are less derivative of their ideols Velvet Underground and Neu, but the energy is also much lower.

Their music became even more introverted on Irreal (2015), produced by John Congleton. The sound is brainy and desolate where it used to be emphatic and euphoric, perhaps under the influence of post-rock, ambient music and electroacoustic chamber music. The industrial blues Interpretation and the densely distorted threnody Navigating the Void are musical claustrophobia of high caliber, but a kammerspiel like Irreal is less and less musical, just a soundscape of terror, and the even more spartan Halcyon Days radiates a fearful sense of sunset in the desert.

Their career ended with the collaboration mini-album Disappears + Steve Shelley + White/Light (2020), a double-LP at 45 RPM, with Shelley, Jeremy Lemos and Matt Clark.

The evolution of the Disappears led to the band transforming into FACS, the trio of Brian Case, Jonathan Van Herik and Noah Leger, later joined by Alianna Kalaba on bass (the drummer in We Ragazzi). The music on Negative Houses (2018) is both cerebral and lugubrious, secreted out of the marriage of post-rock of the 1990s and dark-punk of the 1980s with a touch of industrial music of the 1980s. The centerpiece is the horror-psychedelic soundscape of the nine-minute Houses Breathing (which ends incongrously with a saxophone solo), but the overall dejected atmosphere is created by the tortured litanies of songs like Silencing and Others. Lifelike (2019) contains the dissonant industrial funk dances Another Country and Anti-Body and the spectral kammerspiel Loom State, while the eight-minute Total History fails to match the ambience of Houses Breathing. Void Moments (2020), a transitional work, sinks in the psychedelic quicksands of Version and soars in the spastic rave-up of Void Walker. Present Tense (2021) fails in both departments: the shorter songs are little more than accompaniments for Case's spoken-word declamation, and the nine-minute Alone Without is more meandering than endearing. Still Life In Decay (2023) suffers from the same limitations and from some monotonous repetition in the slow, anemic, plodding longer pieces (the eight-minute Still Life and the eleven-minute New Flag).

(Copyright © 2024 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )