I don't know if focus fits Pre Language. The album is an exercise in nine rhythm-filled tracks of consistent tension. It's clearly more primal than Guider. There is also more grim repetition, trudging along with a purposeful dullness that will make some people miss the aggression found in their first two releases.
The Disappears didn't hold back on Guider. They hold back plenty on Pre Language.
The decision to make a repetitively fuzzy album is not without its appeal. The Chicago-based foursome start off with the right track too.
Replicate has a beat-driven and bassy lowness that teases how much this album won't be as propulsive as their last. It hardly matters. Most of the songs beg for you to get lost in every quaking moment.
The twist is that instead of making you wait for the tension to explode, Replicate (and many of the songs on Pre Language) feel like one big wind down. The songs never explode, and most never get going either. There are only moments when the music sounds like it might break away from itself before it descends back down into the steady-handed abyss of murkiness that defines it.
While many anticipate that Replicate might be a warmup, it's better to sum this song up as the spirit of the album. The title track, Pre Language, alludes to something more at the start with its early build and hazy grooviness played out in a minor key. The lyrics are tight, nearly spoken instead of punched by Case. It doesn't last despite the menace.
Pre-Language is drummer Steve Shelley's first time in the studio with the band.
As this is the first album that Steve Shelley (Sonic Youth) stepped into the studio to make with the band, one might wonder also how much influence he added into the mix beyond the heavy kick drum. His talent is still unquestionable. But here, it's anybody's guess how much and for what reason so much of it is kept in reserve. The drumming is big, heavy, and nearly prehistoric.
The same can be said about Damon Carruesco and Jonathan van Herik. And that is the point or maybe part of it. In reality, the album aims to be less of a wind down and more of a slow wind up. If you can imagine music taking a shift from clear to amped up several decades ago, then you might appreciate the appetite to play the same set of scruffy chords over and over, and then another set over and over.
It has such a hypnotic effect at times that some songs make snapping at the end seem smarter than clapping. And yet, it all works wonderfully well because every small change is heard. The song Joa does this brilliantly.
The Disappears play Joa with such a consistent measure that any break from the repetition feels welcome. Hibernation Sickness is the same. It slams away, introducing a momentary lapse into a brief, blissfully melodic riff before returning to the chugging and frantic build. And then, when it comes close to what feels like it will be something dizzying ... it just ends.
Fear Of Darkness is more atmospheric in that regard, although it too contains an anti-climatic end after a sensational build (with some Sonic Youth influences). Still, the linear approach to almost everything really does carry the desired effect. Brother Joliene is especially better for it. There is something darker and sinister tucked inside it, because the smile you hear is really a smirk.
Pre Language By The Disappears Beats 4.2 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.
Pre Language is better than the average dose of haziness, but only in small doses. The best bet on this album is to pick three or four tracks and tuck them inside a playlist with more diversity. It might sound like a strange way to listen, but it makes everything better. While everyone else tries so hard, songs like Replicate, Joa, and Brother Joliene break up the greater monotony with, oddly enough, repetition.
Pre Language can be downloaded from iTunes or order the CD from Barnes & Noble. Pre Language by the Disappears is also on Amazon. If you prefer a little more aggression over the aftermath, start with Guider and work your way down.