Chicago based FACS have been incredibly productive since 2018. Last year’s ‘Void Moments’ was their third release in three years. New album ‘Present Tense’ is (obviously) their fourth in four! The industrial post-punk trio have always had a dark and claustrophobic sound, and retained a similar aesthetic here.
‘Present Tense’ released via Trouble in Mind (itself a stamp of approval) has only ramped up the intensity.
Opening track ‘XOUT’ sounds like it was recorded in a creepy abandoned factory. The ripping revolving bassline, huge sounding drums and needly guitar scrawls create a heavy atmosphere with a constant sense of dread. There are parallels to be drawn with Nine Inch Nails. It’s a powerful introduction that accumulates layers of robotic guitar noise, becoming more overdriven and brutal throughout. The increasingly fraught shouts of “war” only add to this.
‘Strawberry Cough’ has a fantastic groove that sits atop a constant loop, fizzing drum effects and copious warped delay sounds.
There’s a great deal of attention paid to texture on ‘Present Tense’.
‘Alone Without’ aside from some sporadic drums begins with 2 minutes of increasingly distorted, flanging drone. This eventually makes way for a slow, minimal and moody jam. The almost-robotic vocal and bubbling distorted soup above the bass and drums add a thick fog that disturbs the clarity before a chiming synth line breaks through the darkness. There’s an almost meditative effect worked up over the 9 minutes.
This makes the punchy ‘General Public’ all the more powerful. The quiet/loud dynamics are maximised in yet another fantastic groove courtesy of Noah Leger and Alianna Kalaba. Brian Case’s guitar work, as throughout, adds the wildcard moments.
‘How To See In The Dark’ has a dirty bass groove that instantly recalls the menacing and much loved Charlottefield. Case’s vocals are cavernous, adding huge space to the sinister factory machinery crash of the drums.
The jagged 6/8 title track initially sounds like more of the same. However, it rolls into a disconcerting and nauseous state with the sweeping guitar noise moving in and out of clarity. Kind of like that feeling of wondering, then knowing, you are about to be sick.
This sounds like nothing else.
The finale of ‘Mirrored’ is a twisted serpentine exercise that shape shifts through buzzing atmospherics, glitching vocals, busy almost DnB like drums and rangy and menacing instrumental sections. It appears to end and launches into the most vicious and intense burst of noise on the album. Just like the rest of ‘Present Tense’ it’s paranoid, claustrophobic and constantly on edge.
FACS have produced their best work to date. Just like the present… it’s… tense. Sorry.
You may enjoy this if you like: Nine Inch Nails, Charlottefield, The Birthday Party