Thinking Inside the Box | Music Column | Chicago Reader

Thinking Inside the Box 

What makes Disappears special is what they won't let themselves do.

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Lux was recorded in a larger room, at Clava, and the band made the most of the facilities. "We wanted the ambience to be there and the feeling to be there," Case says. "The songs are super dense, so instead of making them more dense by adding layers we just set up the studio in a way . . . Graeme set up pianos behind the guitars and put the sustain pedals on, so the amps were ringing through these pianos the whole time we were recording. Graeme set the room up to make the room a layer on top of the rest of the stuff."

Disappears' radically austere aesthetic may make recording easier, but it makes writing the music in the first place much tougher. "We throw songs out on a regular basis," says Gibson. "We're riding a fine line, where when you fall off it's beyond repair. It's probably like one in six songs that lasts more than a month."

"The big challenge," Case says, "is not repeating ourselves. The more you pare back and the more you strip away . . . "

"It forces you," Gibson interrupts, "to find new ways to play the same kind of rhythm, with an accent in a slightly different place, or a note dropped out, or a slightly different tempo. It feels like the more we do the more constrained it gets."

"Every time I work on something," Case says, "I'm like, 'How am I going to get away with this again?'"

It's that challenge that keeps Disappears interested in their experiment. "It took us a long time," says Case, "to get to the point where we could be like, 'I'm going to play a G chord for six minutes.'"

He adds, "Go home and play a chord for three minutes. It's a good exercise."

I did. He's right.   

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