Disappears + Steve Shelley + White​/​Light – s/t

3 out of 5

Label: Vampire Blues

Produced by: Jeremy Lemos (engineered by)

I’ve long ago accepted that a lot of musicians I follow around are influenced by music I just never got in to. I like Disappears quite a bit, but I can’t claim to be big on the krautrock stuff that’s a good part of their sound; Disappears covered David Bowie on a release, and I’m not a David Bowie fan; here, the group is teaming up with Steve Shelley of Sonic Youth, and I’m not a Sonic Youth fan. But again – that’s all fine and good. At a more top-down level, the music I love has been influenced by acts from the 60s and 70s who’ve sold billions of albums and singles and to whom I’ve never much enjoyed listening.

So: Disappears with Sonic Youth’s drummer and drone act White / Light – their particular version of drone also not my bag – who knows? Let’s give it a shot.

Recorded in 2009 and then lost, and now found, this 8-song collab is an admitted jam session, and as such, it… wanders. It starts out in maybe the most direct direction, with Disappears sound guiding things, and then loosens up as it goes along, leaning in to Sonic Youth expansiveness in the middle, and concluding with wide open ambient workouts that promote White / Light’s vibe. Given your preferences, then, maybe only part of the set really “works” – for me, it’s the Disappears stuff – and the rest is somewhere between interesting and background noise.

But while I’m maybe latching on the most accessible songs, I do think the first few tracks are an incredibly awesome bit of noise and rock, letting W / L set some atmosphere initially, before Brian Case’s vocals echo in to the fray, and the addition of extra drumming from Shelley urges things into a really propulsive and space-filling version of Disappears’ protopunk sound. ‘Anagram’ and ‘Salem’ push these down a couple different paths – the former FACSy in its minimalism; the latter definitely more of a Youth jam – and then the meet-up gets experimental, letting ambient tones be the driving factor for occasional added sounds, and a nice, last-minute chance to jam as ‘Demon Exterminator / Like You’ concludes.

It’s a worthwhile meeting-of-minds that I appreciate was captured, and a team of skilled engineers / mixers / masterers (Jeremy Lemos / John Congleton / Jason Ward) insure that it sounds like an intentional recording, although the Vampire Blues LP is pretty quiet – I think it might sound better digitally. However, given the rather disparate nature of its bits and piece – the songs tend to operate in one clear mood – one’s appreciation of this stuff is likely dictated by how much you dig those individual pieces.