Release Date: Jan 18, 2011
Record label: Kranky
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock, Shoegaze
There’s a good chance that by the time this review is published, Disappears’s Guider will be completely obsolete in the eyes of its creators. Drummer/producer Graeme Gibson left the band shortly after the album was completed to focus his attention on the Portland-based Fruit Bats, and a Chicago Tribune feature reported that Disappears has already recorded five new songs with—le gasp!—Sonic Youth’s Steve Shelley replacing Gibson behind the drumkit. Relentless forward momentum seems to be this band’s artistic philosophy; it certainly shows in Guider‘s propulsive kraut noise, but it’s also evident in Disappears’s decision to record Guider on the same reel used to record Lux, willfully destroying their debut album’s master copy.
Disappears had their debut album, Lux, under their belts for a while before Kranky released it in early 2010. Even so, the jump the band makes on Guider, released less than a year later, is significant. The title track blasts out of the gate, revealing a nimbler version of the fiery, droning rock the band introduced on Lux. Before, they sounded like they could pummel a song into the ground, but here it feels like Disappears shoot their music into the sky.
During ‘New Fast’, Guider’s penultimate track, a glance at your watch reveals you’re only running at a somewhat premature 15 minutes. Just as you’re scanning the sleeve for the caveat marked 'EP', the band suddenly unleash ‘Revisiting’; a sixteen-minute grinding behemoth, let loose onto your ears and central nervous system. And all is well with the world again.
On their second full-length, Chicago's Disappears have gotten more Zen. Where their mix of Velvet Underground chug and krautrock groove on 2010 debut Lux was pretty melodic, on Guider they're more interested in being hypnotic. They've embraced repetition, using it as an end of its own rather than a way to find hooks. They do offer lots to latch onto-- memorable riffs abound, and revving tempos propel the tunes like a car stuck in 5th gear.
Every Disappears song sounds roughly the same: cranked amps dump big Glenn Branca cinder blocks of tone through whirligig pedal rigs over an obstinate kraut clatter while Brian Case whoops or chants unintelligibly. It’s an elegant racket, a savvy distillation of stylish fuzz-rock mid-60s to present, more emollient than angular. There’s no question: Guider, the Chicago group’s second 30-minute LP, is an expertly realized slab of effects-driven rock ‘n’ roll.
When a band like Disappears so clearly perfects the minimalist sound they were going for, it’s hard to actually criticize them for it. On all accounts, the band has certainly succeeded in doing what they set out to do, and have done so while unabashedly wearing their musical influences on their proverbial sleeve. It’s all here, if you listen close enough—the chug of Lou Reed’s guitar during his Velvet Underground years; the Autobahn repetitive precision of Thomas Dinger’s drumming in Neu!; and even the mounting excitement of Spaceman 3’s drone.