Music Reviews
Pre Language

Disappears Pre Language

(Kranky) Rating - 6/10

Chicago’s Disappears really could care less about making any meaningful connection that would catapult them in the success line. They’re driven by the instinctual necessity of making fuzzed-out, big riff songs with the least amount of suppression. A quick glance at their discography displays their liking for large, blown out typefaces and stark, absorbing backgrounds. Like a Sol de Witt painting without the obvious curvatures, they design in two dimensions and with little characterization. The idea is to follow their careful set of guidelines – what you get out of it depends on how much you want to contemplate upon it. Implementing a plaintive veneer is their spiel, and what better way to cement it than by titling their latest release Pre Language.

Of course, the origin of the language in which Disappears speaks dates back to 1967, a time in which pristine guitar chords were being supplanted by scruffy, basement kids over-amplifying to varying degrees of loud. They’re not interested in understanding its semantics, but rather in what effect it brings to those who hear it. A song like All Gone White even translates as mindless – it starts appeasing enough with a midtempo rhythm section, and then it tears into a bludgeoning cacophony with feral squalls of tangled guitars. The pursuit to communicate becomes irrelevant; suddenly, movement becomes the shape and structure of these tracks.

That’s not to say that Disappears approach every new release without a clear sense of form. Up to this point, the boundaries they’ve set for themselves has benefited them in different ways – from the rattling psych rock of Lux to the catchy, textural distortions with a slight edge of sneer of Guider, they usually orbit through a broad, dark side of the spectrum; repetition always being the common denominator. When Brother Joliene ends the album with a series of gyrating guitar pedaling, it further proves how they cannot dispose of those old habits.

What sets Pre-Language apart from those two previous releases is that go-for-the-jugular attitude, as if the band members are cocking their eyes upwards while playing their instruments with self-serving irony. Replicate amounts to nothing more than dumb fun, with lead singer Brain Case literally stressing every last syllable with a faint growl. Throughout, a spewing, pandering vitriol taints a band whose vivacity seems to be wearing thin. Fortunately, it suits some of the more clattering bits – Fear of Darkness glides and stomps a mean, warbling riff built around an elastic post-punk bassline. And the outright obtuse Joa (which vaguely recalls Sonic Youth’s Panty Lies) has Case’s sing-speak reduced to an echoing incoherent bawl; the fact that Steve Shelley had a say in this pitiable excuse of a song makes it almost painful to listen to.

So much as a cursory listen might suggest Pre-Language as a highly rewarding listen, what with its pronounced guitar work swaying across all frequencies. It occasionally makes its mark by creating an artful patchwork of mud-spattered sounds that gradually takes form when piecing it all together. It becomes a dominant, albeit somewhat faceless expression that defies the meaning of language altogether. And then there are these absurd, nondescript moments that probably would’ve been more intelligently expressed by a Neanderthal. Good thing illiteracy isn't an issue anymore, um, right?