Released Apr. 16th independently
I became interested in Disappears when I saw them open for Obits in August 2011. I picked up their 2 LPs at that time (2010’s Lux and 2011’s Guider) but hadn’t checked in on them since, until recently. I didn’t know they were so prolific; in 5 years they’ve had no fewer than 10 releases. They’re an alt-rock band from Chicago whose sound mixes elements of art rock, garage rock, shoegaze, and kraut rock. Their most obvious influences are psychedelic acts like the 13th Floor Elevators (Texas, 1960s) and Spaceman 3 (England, 1980s), and avant-garde group Can (Germany, 1970s). Having now listened to their 2012 album Pre Language, I recommend it as their most accessible release; the addition of Sonic Youth’s Steve Shelley on drums perhaps contributed to a more driving, thrusting dynamic that’s closer to straight alternative rock than anything else they’ve done.
Shelley is now out, replaced by Noah Ledger, and the Kone EP is a work of stark post-punk minimalism. Its most obvious precedent is “Revisiting”, the 16-minute psychedelic exploration that finished out Guider. The title track is nearly 16 minutes long, consisting mostly of what sounds like space echo or some far-off air raid siren, and doesn’t approach anything remotely resembling a “song” until about 6:30 in. It’s a moody, ambient piece with backbeat that flits in and out before finally settling in to stay. There are eerie, choppy guitar lines and, eventually, some heavily echoed and reverbed vocals that repeat the same question over and over: “Hey, what about Kone?”, with little else. A squall of feedback builds, accompanied by some electronic blips, and then the song peters out about the same as it began, each instrument slowly fading away. The song goes absolutely nowhere but isn’t really trying to; the band seems more interested in building a moody psychedelic soundscape.
After the bleak atmosphere of track 1, the primal drum beat that kicks off “Kontakt” feels like sweet relief. But this song, too, is an exercise in controlled atmospherics: Chanted and heavily-reverbed lyrics match up with angry-sounding drums and a surf-influenced guitar sequence to create sinister groove. It feels brisk compared to its predecessor, lasting only 5 minutes, but nevertheless drags the listener down into a bleak, feral state of trance.
Track 3 is an “edit” of “Kone” that blurs the song even further, if you can believe it. On vinyl it’s an infinite track courtesy of a locked groove, but digitally it’s shaved down to about 10 minutes.
The whole thing is a bit intimidating; definitely not something you can rock out to nor hum along to as background music. But if you devote some attention to it you’ll be rewarded with some interesting moments and an overall rich sonic experience. Kone isn’t going to be every rock fan’s cup of tea—they’re not that kind of band—but if you’re in the mood for something a little trippy and willing to give a deep listen, I recommend giving it a spin.