Some deep meditations from Disappears. Irreal is the new full length from the Chicago group. This record is brimming with undertones of angst and frustration just waiting to boil over. Spanning a lot of influences, it evokes elements of Krautrock, trip-hop and electronic dance music done with a live band. "Another Thought" sounds like a Massive Attack vocal meets Soulwax synths with some tribal rhythms. Pick it up on vinyl LP and CD from Kranky.
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Immune to the ceaseless, stubborn world they’ve created and hungry for your fear, Disappears have constructed a new monument called ‘Irreal’. It’s a vampiric post-punk album that buries its listener in riffs so repetitive they feel like drones, and it also features an unwavering baritone that gets close to my idea of an Old Testament God (if that God was into degenerative “noise rock” and had some big ideas about Nietzsche, which I admit is pretty much impossible). Beyond its first track -- the enrapturing “Interpretation“, which colours in the krautrock grey with yelps and inventive left-turns -- ‘Irreal’ feels like a journey that becomes more and more numbing as it goes on, each track going deeper into nothingness. That’s Kranky brand nihilism for you: you always get too deep.
‘Irreal’ sounds a little too serious for its own good, at times, which is largely frontman Brian Case’s fault: he slurs his naysaying as if he’s parked between Kasabian and Sabbath. Ultimately, though, it’s earned, with strident percussion and incrementally shifting riffs (such as the one on the record’s title track, which gets distorted and patchy but never for a second ceases to exist) navigating the self-seriousness to the shores of total darkness. Disappears sound a little silly, but they also sound like they’re going to eat you alive; it’s a fair trade-off, and the band’s compactness allows them to try out different little doses of shock factor -- between the monotony, there’s squealing synth, overriding noise and the odd ambient blackout.
John Congleton’s behind the production on this one, and he allows the band’s dark, twisted netherworld to also sound cleaned up, like long hair well combed. The sound is silky and impressive, and the riffs are granted space to stretch out in -- the percussion, which gallops all over the place, really feels like it’s been given limitless space, making its adventurousness easily heard. That’s how ‘Irreal’ ultimately comes out: like a good workout that could lead to the real deal. At the same time, these dudes are really good at post-punk gymnastics -- ‘Irreal’ is an excellent slab of black comedy.
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