Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Disappears' "Pre Language": Music Review

The third album introduces Steve Shelley (Sonic Youth) on drums; it starts with insistent pounding straight out of Joy Division. It then erupts into a jittery guitar riff and doomy bass in an echoed monolith of produced, chilly sound. If this intrigues you, this will delight you.

"Replicate" signals the intentions of Disappears. They copy those who made the original robotic frameworks to house what seems human in its fragility and sustained heartbeat underneath a severe first glance. The title track opens up more of a postpunk approach, but it ramps it down to a more streamlined entry, edging in a more accessible guitar fill over a more conventional beat. "Hibernation Sickness" continues this direction adroitly, and "Minor Patterns" plays into the delay features of a Martin Hannett-era late-70s production, but admirer of that style as I am, it may wear down less ardent hearers well before its four minutes-plus end. It's a self-selecting audience for this astringent mood, certainly.

"All Gone White" with a shivery guitar, grim vocal and an evocative title hearkens to Goth; "Joa" snakes through related atmospheres. "Fear of Darkness" reminds me of the New York sound of '00s revivalist bands nodding back thirty-odd years, but I found it rather monochrome. "Love Drug" lurches about until its final minute, when a danceable rhythm emerges, a rarity on this record so far. This allows Shelley to show off a bit more than many songs allow him to, in their rigidity.

"Brother Joliene" turns to a distorted, downbeat twist recalling Mark E. Smith and The Fall--like them, it for this song prefers to stick to a stern style, until it makes a clever shift to letting out the tension into the guitar surge. It ends this short album intelligently. I doubt if "Pre Language" will excite many not already warmed up to a chilly style, but as the influences I mention in this review tend to be among my favorites, you can judge if this album will satisfy you as well.

Songs tend to be three-five minutes; I hear a "late Joy Division" mood here dominating, in the shifts of emotion instrumentally behind what continues to be a severe (but appropriate) vocal alternating commands and chants. On earlier albums, the Velvet Underground, Krautrock, The Fall, post-punk, drone, and space rock enriched or at least drew comparisons the contents; this time, "Pre Language" appears to want to follow Ian Curtis closer. (See my reviews of #1, "Lux" and #2, "Guider". I recommend hearing these before "Pre Language," which chooses a less diverse mood by comparison, if consistent.)(Amazon US 7-6-12)

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