Essential New Music: FACS’s “Void Moments”

If the first quarter of 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that whatever seemed certain can change in a moment. Judging from the sound and sentiments projected by Void Moments, FACS has already figured this out. The Chicago trio formed three years ago from the wreckage of the rock-oriented Disappears, which you might recall as the combo that Steve Shelley joined for a spell after Sonic Youth closed up shop. But while FACS employs the primary colors of rock, each element’s best efforts to do what they’re supposed to do are thwarted by studio interventions and role inversions.

Brian Case’s singing flattens, distorts and leaves little eddies of cast-off sound circling in its wake, and his guitar parts sound like they’ve been sucked into an airless environment in which texture grows bushy and rough while melodies fade into ghostly insubstantiality. Alianna Kalaba’s bass notes stop in place to erupt into thick clouds of noise. And the balance between Noah Leger’s drums has been so destabilized that it sometimes seems like the kit factions are trying to subdue each other. The nearest precedent to this music is early Public Image Ltd. But where PiL sang its rejection of everything from on top of a tower of dub, the members of FACS seem to be diving into the moment’s roiling confusion and finding what they can live with in the mess. The protagonists of Case’s telegraphic lyrics are working out new ways of relating, the same as band’s instruments, and while none of this sounds too comfortable, it all sounds very true. 

—Bill Meyer