So we are more in Pitchfork than Iron Fist or Terrorizer territory here but we like to mix things up a bit and Disappears sound is certainly one that I am au fait with. I have fleeting memories of their last album ‘Era’ getting a couple of spins when we covered it. It did not go down fantastically well with the reviewer at the time but I was happy to give them another shot when this came up for coverage. One thing I didn’t look into before reviewing was where the band came from with their dub heavy form of post punk, electronic heavy rock. I at first thought maybe Birmingham in the UK due to a presence of the likes of Scorn and also Jesu (more so than Godflesh although some of that is present). Maybe Bristol though due to the recent Hateful Abandon having put me in a similar place too. If not that definitely somewhere in the USA due to a feel of the sort of thing Jim Plotkin would be involved in as this took me back to some much loved albums by OLD and Flux. Well I was right in a way as Disappears are from Wax Trax home Chicago a place rich in musical experimentation and no doubt they fit right in there.
Dispensing with the PR blurb which is frankly rather daft “Eternalism, roboethics, identity – it’s a Ballardian mix of imperfect melodies, half thoughts and good ol’ dystopian modernity,” I head off on a ‘Crash’ course (see what I did there) and am confronted by the first of eight tracks ‘Interpretation, to err interpret. Yep it’s chilled and feels very urban reminding heavily of all the aforementioned artists as it hits with slow mellow beats that have a dub feel about them as well as a bit of a trip-hop haze. It places me in a very early morning come down sort of state, hazy and designed to help through the effects of a heavy night. Vocals are clean and add to the textures with a serious case of deja-vu about them that is going to take a while to try and place. This is all described as a dream sequence and that is something that it really does feel like. I_O goes on to uncoil with a bit of a spring in its step, there’s a bit of a gentle Fugazi feel and when the vocals come in with a slur to them I am now reminded of a not completely inebriated Mark E Smith, Disappears are certainly plundering my old record collection and putting it together in their own unique way here. Rhythmic almost tribal drum patterns beat out over ‘Another Thought’ with vocals taking on an almost abstract and robotic feel. I guess this lot look at themselves as some sort of existentialist artists from the spiel I have read, although very beard stroking hipster with art rock pretentions, musically I can quite happily cope with it all as it washes over me. I have to think this might not be the case live and I would find it all a bit insufferable. I notice they have gigs coming up where they play the whole of David Bowie’s classic Low and if that’s not a bloody cheek for a start I don’t know what is!
The title track has those slurred vocals again over some very Plotkin sounding guitar strums before it gets dub heavy and dark with an almost Gothic feel about the fluttering guitars. There’s a touch of Bauhaus now and if the vocals picked up into higher croons you could easily see Pete Murphy singing along on this. It is a standout track for sure. As things progress through instrumental segments and I find myself drifting in and out of different states the beat picks up with smoky tones on ‘Halcyon Days’ heading into a dark hazy sort of late night Ladbroke Grove club territory where back in the 80’s you would no doubt find members of Killing Joke, The Clash and Big Audio Dynamite in party mode. It’s still very soporific though and the sort of tune you would expect before the place kicked everyone out on the streets, dizzy eyed at 4AM. ‘Mist Rites’ gets a bit more funky and draws slightly out of the stupor it has left me in, vocals also pick up and become more strident and it really is like The Fall meets Bauhaus now as things reach a sonic and psychedelic epoch! By the time we reach the end and are ‘Navigating The Void’ I cannot deny the fact that I have really got into this. It took quite a lot of plays but it ticks so many boxes that I identified with Disappears are obviously a band musically close to my heart. Having said that I think this is definitely an album that I would have to be in the mood or the right altered state to revisit but it was an intriguing trip even if I am still wondering what all the ‘Roboethics’ I obviously missed were all about!
(7/10 Pete Woods)