Interview with vocalist/guitarist Brian Case | By Christopher J. Harrington | Photo by Zoran Orlic
FACS use the tunnel of reverie to take hold of the listener’s mind. The Chicago-based trio never step far into transparency, distancing themselves from wholeness. Their sound veers toward machination but is actually at the heart of naturalism, an organic sort of machinery.
“I know my limitations as a guitarist,” frontman Brian Case laughs. “What I’m trying to do is react to the rhythm section, so my playing winds up being very abstract.”
The band’s newest work, Lifelike, was released on March 29 via Trouble In Mind Records.
“It is a political record of sorts,” Case says. “It’s about what’s happening in America, the confusion of waking up every day. I mean, I get up and there’s this hesitation to pick up a newspaper, you know?”
Lifelike echoes this hesitation. With its layers of minimal density, beauty, and harshness, it has a circular sort of madness. The listener is confronted with this huge anxiety that’s filtered through a seductive vibration. The power of the bass helps achieve this division. New to the band, bassist Alianna Kalaba—who has played drums for Cat Power, We Ragazzi, and Crocodiles—brings a freeness that morphs immensely with Case and his former Disappears bandmate drummer Noah Leger’s longtime execution. The total sound is one of reflection and controlled chaos.
“Alianna actually never played bass,” Case notes. “We had her come in and really just do her thing. Her ideas about rhythm are truly great.”
The results are impressive. The ease with which each song on Lifelike rolls out is uncanny; the richness of every groove sinks like digital raindrops. It’s a massive intake. The feeling is modern and loose. “Anti-Body” illustrates this best: a mindscape that drives straight through one’s forehead, numbing and opening.
“That song actually took a couple of months to write,” Case says. “It came from a long jam, something like 10 minutes, and we just started chipping away. We always try to get about 30 minutes of music together, and then, we’ll take it to the studio and start looking at it as a record. We had a really great time making this album, being in the studio with Alianna, and just putting it all together.”
Lifelike goes by quick but grows in one’s thoughts, every angle an invisible screen of totality. There is nothing wasted, every second a mindful expression.
“Definitely, the idea of minimalism is important,” Case says, “stripping things down to their essence.”