Present Tense is exceptionally dark and well driven into the skull so you have no way to return. Classical clever rock music which makes it so pulsating,very punkish and abstract noise makes this album a real gem.
Favorite track: Alone Without.
Note: This album is really dark, but it feels like an imperative investigation of the immediate darkness we have been living through–search lights into the wilderness of quarantine, locating remaining signs of life, taking account of the dead, posing important questions, and insisting on the quest to “make it mean something.”
Addictive, dark and delicious. Should you decide to also make available the live performance audio of Present Tense as a download, I think you'll have a few takers!
Favorite track: General Public.
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Wasn't the spring time cruel?
You do it until you cannot
State of certainty
In your private life
It's cultish now
Wrapped in gold and coded
State of certainty
Would you rewrite
What is this feeling?
A violent corollary is useful
When the line you draw
Stronger than your medicine
Songs you thought had beauty
They pale like dead men
Slow kiss from black perfume
Titanics you won't beat me
Love your jealous lover
Become what you seek
Unmoving blues navigate this island
You marked me washed up
Fish up my drunk body
Lulled to a watery grave
I asked the waves who rolls the dead
All life has passed through you
All life remains kneeling in love
Remain kneeling in love
There is another world
Tomorrow said with different words
Conscious being is being alone
Failure is what you get for trying
Your intentions were good until they were not
You said it in your sleep
I will make it mean something
Your shadow split
They are following you
Chicago trio FACS never stop pushing forward; they’ve honed and refined their stark, minimal scrape and clatter for four years and counting, having risen out of the ashes of beloved Chicago band Disappears in 2018 with the bone-rattling intensity of Negative Houses. After three albums in the past three years, the trio return in 2021 with Present Tense, their fourth album and perhaps their sharpest statement as a band.
Opener “XOUT” barrels forward like a tank, with Case’s guitar chiming like warning bells, until the climax comes crashing down, glitching out near the close. “Strawberry Cough” comes next, its fusion of corporeal playing and stately, electronic heartbeats punctured by random bursts of noise or backwards masked sounds. “Alone Without”, a track originally recorded for Adult Swim’s 2020 singles series appears next, albeit in different form; more menacing and serpentine. Side two opens with “General Public”, taking the loud/quiet dynamic as a jumping off point for the song’s unsettling seasick vibe. ‘How To See In the Dark” offers a brief respite, with its persistent, dark quietude that lingers until the song’s end. “Present Tense”, the album’s title track, offers up its first truly weird moment mid-song when the song changes mood distinctly, and the music drops out save for Case’s guitar and vocals. The album’s final track, the densely packed “Mirrored”, begins with a restrained, post-rock shuffle. The mind-scrambling cacophony that comes next takes its time to roll in, but once it does, it comes in waves, flipping back onto itself multiple times until it’s folded into oblivion.
FACS once again shuttered themselves into Electrical Audio with lauded engineer Sanford Parker to lay down the basic tracks and overdubs for Present Tense. This time, the band approached their songwriting from a different angle “Alone Without was the first song we recorded and we really built it in the studio” Case says, “Alianna and I played different instruments, and I think that freedom informed how the other songs developed. All the lyrics were random phrases on a big sheet and were put together as the songs took shape, so I feel like I was collecting these thoughts and trying to figure out how to process them as a big picture vs making complete ideas in individual songs.” Case adds ”...letting the songs go where they wanted, without steering them into what we all think a FACS album should be.” The change is palpable from last year’s claustrophobic and fried Void Moments, but Present Tense is still ALL FACS, albeit draped in a layer of haze. Paranoia in soft focus, perhaps?
released May 21, 2021
Noah Leger - drums, keyboards
Alianna Kalaba - bass, keyboards, drums on A3
Brian Case - guitar, vocals, bass VI on A3
Recorded January & November 2020 at Electrical Audio with Sanford Parker.
Mixed by John Congleton
Mastered by Matthew Barnhart at Chicago Mastering Service
Photography by Cory Dewald and Alison Green