FACS – ‘Negative Houses’

By Andy Joice

We’re very much in the era of pop-punk which, whilst awesome, creates a generic vacuum that makes anything outside the norm seem especially unusual and grating. Enter FACS. Rising from the ashes like a post-punk phoenix, FACS is a rebirth of Chicago band Disappears after the departure of bassist Damon Carruesco. While both FACS and Disappears operate within a post-punk genre, FACS have polished and nurtured it to create a more abstract, minimalist sound.

With Noah Leger’s rhythmic, almost mechanical drumming and Jonathan Van Herik’s eerie guitar parts, there’s a touch of industrial experimentation. Adding in Vocalist Brian Case’s thudding bass and hushed vocals, it culminates in a record that’s tense with atmosphere and leaves a mischievously sinister taste in the mouth. Think of a gloomier version of Swans. Which, of course, is a great thing.

Lead single ‘Skylarking’ opens the record with rolling drums akin to a heartbeat. It drives through the track and, to an extent, the album as a whole. Whispered lyrics add to the stark feel, giving a sense of both uncertainty and familiarity. It’s a bass led track with Van Herik adding the muted accents between soaring tonal harmonies.

The standout is the nine minute long ‘Houses Breathing’. With unusual screeches, deep bassy tones and a muted saxophone, it personifies the creaking and groaning of an abandoned house. It’s a track that reminds you to get your boiler fixed which, although probably unintentional, adds a level of unconventional mysticism. Couple that with the hauntingly breathless vocals and it leaves a real sense of claustrophobia that resonates for days.

With a comforting monotony as standalone tracks, they flow together as one, seamlessly leading one to the other. As a whole, it’s the sort of album you could put in a frame and hang on the wall. This is art for the ears.

ANDY JOICE

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