Into the void
FACS has just released their third album, since their formation about three years ago, called Void Moments on Trouble in Mind Records. This album is, not surprisingly, heavily rhythm-based, and packed with lots of distortion. The Chicago-based art-rock band that has had different players now consists of Brian Case of Disappears (with whom former Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelly played), drummer Noah Leger (also of Disappears) and drummer-turned-bassist Alianna Kalaba (We Regazzi).
Void Moments grabs your attention right out of the gate. The first song “Boy” is an unabashed eighties pop-rock tune with a fun, repetitive drum beat. The song intensifies and unravels a little into an experimental phase in the middle, but overall the pop-i-ness of it deceives the listener as to how the rest of the album is going to feel. The second song “Teenage Hive” smacks hard with a heavier rock feel. The in-your-face tone of the drums dominates the song. The heavily distorted, spoken lead vocal conveys a darkness that is cohesive with the heavier drums. Leger does an excellent job of keeping us engaged with interesting drum rhythms. At this point, the rest of the album cruises through to the end with the cohesion of ambiance created by distortion, experimentation and heavy percussion.
The vocal harmonization robot-like effect in the intro of “Casual Indifference” is noteworthy while the whole of the song is a goth-eighties fan’s dream. “Version” spirals out a bit more on the experimentation plane, using an odd-time syncopated drum theme. It is one of the more inexplicable tunes on Void Moments, sounding a bit monotonous, and a bit like the song doesn’t quite know where it wants to go. The voice at the end of asking “Sanford did you record that?” suggests that this track was generated from a jam and was not a fleshed-out song. The reintroduction of a voice speak-singing in the next tune “Void Walker” is reassuring, but this track is plagued with a bit of monotony as well. This song is a collection of cool sounds and expert playing that just doesn’t go anywhere in particular. With the name “Void Walker”, maybe that’s exactly what this song is supposed to do. “Lifelike” is a short interlude, a drum-driven trip beyond the edge of town. The final track “Dub Over” is the cooldown track. It’s got all the goth, slow-tempo goodness but it doesn’t seem to properly sum up the album as a final track should.
Void Moments starts out strong, but meanders the rest of the time, really having several of its own void moments. This music begs us to release our conventions and just go with the flow. FACS delivers music that champions exploration over all other components. Perhaps that’s the lesson that Void Moments has to teach us. After all, great discoveries are most often made when we are willing to explore.