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. Their second effort in two years, Guider shows Disappears with tunnel vision on the present alone.
Disappears is helmed by Brian Case of the Ponys, as well as Damon Carruesco and Jonathan Van Herik, but their creative or personnel DNA could be radically different tomorrow. Disappears doesn’t ever stop moving, and the group comes alive sonically when the sounds tumble directly out of them before they have a chance to overthink what’s happening. To wit, nearly every song on Guider was recorded in one take; it’s six tracks of the group chipping away at the shell of their own egg, coming to a powerful climax with the indomitable 15-minute finale, “Revisiting.”
That Disappears has completely erased Lux from material existence is appropriate considering the reckless, nihilistic bent of Guider. Take a look at the cover art: six large black letters sitting on top of white noise, the word “guider” atomized into colossal and discrete letters with sharp lines, curves, and angles, puncturing through the emotionless blank canvas. Guider is all about that hacking and slicing: guitars grind through the same chord without apology for minutes at a time; Case does his best John Lydon-style howl wrapped in a muddy echo; and delay effects and tremelo sculpt an ambience of dreadful uneasiness to the point of disorientation.
How Disappears will coalesce without Gibson’s booming percussion, which Case described to the Tribune as “caveman drumming,” will be interesting to hear considering that it’s Guider‘s lifeblood. On “Not Romantic,” a single guitar chord and the bass’s two-note punctuation dilate and swell together, but they wouldn’t have such effective momentum without Gibson’s signature drumming style. None of the instruments or effects on Guider are individually highlighted; they each depend on each other to form a distinctive brew of punk haze.
I can’t escape the fantastic words of blogger Kenny Bloggins, who so neatly nailed the description of the album’s centerpiece, “Revisiting,” as “marching-into-Mordor-via-the-Autobahn.” The track is Disappears’s grandest moment to date, almost literally unstoppable in its driving, driving, driving, drrrriivvvviinngggg repetition, insistent on arriving in the heart of darkness and slaying Marlon Brando immediately upon arrival with a dirty machete. My only small bone to pick with the track is that I wish it was a full instrumental: Case’s droning vocals show up for only a few minutes, but they harp on relationship issues that seem pretty insignificant in the light of the song’s divine kraut crusade. Let the beast speak for itself.
Guider may be a little jagged around the edges, but it’s that one-take immediacy that gives the record its legs. Observing this brand of ultra-violence is thrilling, but the action can be a bit messy at times.