Relationships with and reactions to bands are a complicated business at the best of times and Disappears are certainly no exception to the rule.
For here are the Chicago experimentalists adding to that complexity with a performance that at once beguiles, baffles, welcomes and repulses, and quite frequently all at the same time. It’s not often that a band achieve such a vexing proposition – the last thing you can accuse them of is being less than compelling.
And no less arresting is The Oscillation’s earlier supporting set. Their variant of shimmering drone rock displays a growing maturity that sees them draw a sizeable crowd, despite the early hour. The epic Corridor (Part 1 & 2) channels the spirit of Syd Barrett via a bewildering phalanx of effects, while the heroic efforts of drummer Valentina Magaletti, battling against a collapsing kit, sees her maintain her metronomic precision against seemingly overwhelming odds.
Despite adopting the kind of revolving-door policy to drummers that would make even Spinal Tap blush – former Sonic Youth timekeeper Steve Shelley once occupied the drum stool – Disappears have been on an upward trajectory since the release of their debut album Lux in 2010. Indeed, as evidenced by this year’s Irreal, the band have found more space within their music to create a darker shade of menace than was previously on offer.
And so it proves tonight. Noah Leger’s skittering and complicated time signatures on the drums lock in with Damon Carruesco’s low-end rumble and pulses to free up the heavily reverbed twin-guitar work of Jonathan van Herik and Brian Case. Their love of echo extends to Case’s treated vocals that, though unintelligible in places, act more as an instrument in their own right to mesh into a sense of dread.
The industrial grind of opener Interpretation is disconcerting and perilous, and never once releases the tension and monstrous grip it holds the audience in. Elsewhere, Irreal is propelled by nagging harmonic plucks that give way to an overwhelming wall of sound.
Though they bring the evening to a close with a pair of Bowie covers in the shape of Always Crashing In The Same Car and Breaking Glass, it’s thanks to their own music that Disappears linger in the memory long after the event. Not the easiest of rides, theirs is a challenge definitely worth rising to.