thu 25/07/2024

Disappears perform David Bowie's Low, 100 Club, London | reviews, news & interviews

Disappears perform David Bowie's Low, 100 Club, London

Disappears perform David Bowie's Low, 100 Club, London

A night of highs as the US rock band tackle 'Low'

'Look, look! This one's a duck!'

The 100 Club is dark. Really dark. People are shrouded in the ink-light. I think it’s to save their embarrassment as they order a drink and realise they’ll have to either apply for a loan or sell a child in order to get drunk. In any case, the indoor gloaming provides the perfect setting for the opening act of the evening, Demian Castellanos. The creative helm of psych-rock act The Oscillation, he's on his own tonight with a wordless solo set showcasing new material.

Starting off with tones and drones, Castellanos doesn’t so much create a mood as conjure up musical weather. There’s a gadget involved – from my angle it looks as if he’s attempting to play guitar with a stapler – but, for the most part, this is just a man, some effects pedals and a phenomenally satisfying journey through shaped forms and looping laments to an absolutely beautiful, almost acid folk, conclusion. He holds the audience so well that, when he finishes, it feels like being gently woken up.

It’s these people we simply can’t afford to lose

There’s barely enough time to take it all in before Disappears take the stage to launch through David Bowie’s Low, as they did a year ago at the the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, where the touring exhibition, David Bowie Is, launched. Some have wondered why an alternative band who do fuzzy guitars rather than icy introspection should choose to cover the album where Bowie began to dispense with tradition – and, indeed, guitars. Well, given Disappears’ Krautrock influence, and the fact that, despite appearances, the first half of Low is, pretty much, a straightforward rock record, it actually seems quite fitting.

The songs are both more muscular and more assertive than their previous incarnation had allowed, with Noah Leger apparently trying to hit through his kit with an urgency that breathes life and fire into “Breaking Glass”, “Sound and Vision” and “Always Crashing in the Same Car”. He’s ably assisted in this bid to propel by bassist Damon Carruesco. There’s not a synthesiser in sight – all the motifs and padded backgrounds are provided by the guitars of Brian Case and Jonathan van Herik, and it sounds thrilling. Bowie’s songs, though obviously recognisable, become different beasts, both wider and wilder, what they lose in synthesised stratification, they make up for in sheer mass.

Yet, like Low itself, it’s on the second side that the magic happens. Where Bowie’s “Warszawa” floats, here it drips and covers us, held down by the extra weight it’s been given. Disappears have taken each song’s mould and filled it with a sound all of their own. Nowhere is this more evident that “Weeping Wall” which, sans synth and with any reference to Phillip Glass or “Scarborough Fair” drowned out, becomes a clean sheet of noise, cleansing the palette in the same way that a hurricane tidies things up a bit.

After hitting such highs with Low, it was a shame that the recording of the 2014 Chicago gig that this show was to launch, has been held up at the pressing-plant. Still, pointless 200 gram reissues of Springsteen albums for idiot audiophiles don’t press themselves. There’s a major issue at pressing-plants and it’s proving a real problem for indies who operate in and on the margins – they're wasting money when they need to recoup and reinvest.

It’s these people we simply can’t afford to lose. They may not have the money of the industry big boys, but – as nights like tonight prove – they are worth much, much more.


Disappears have taken each song’s mould and filled it with a sound all of their own


Editor Rating: 
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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