With Present Tense, FACS presents a brutalist sensory overload of sound that’s made with a delicate touch and precision that isn’t commonly seen in post-punk standards. The soundscapes and imagery presented in this album often reminds me of those old, grainy nuclear test footage in black-and-white. The textural riffs mimic the desert sand as its doom-laden sonics form a mushroom cloud swells around the landscape, ready to pounce on everything with lethal force. The experimental sounds layered through each track gives it a sense of mystery, only revealing its full impact after the dust settles. What’s more amusing is how FACS pulls this off while barely jacking up the volume, instead using rhythm, atmosphere and mood to create the desired effect.
Opener “XOUT” exhibits all of the characteristics I’ve described so far, a song that is soothing with primal urgency and the basis for what you can expect for the rest of the album. “Strawberry Cough” brings with it a doomed psychedelic feeling with its aggressively colliding phasers. It’s as if you’re on a bad trip and trapped in a swirl of dizzying images.
To say that this album is deep is a strong understatement. FACS’ tendency for creating ominous music makes it so that a different string of anxiety and dread can present itself with every song when you least expect it. “Alone Without” has spiralling textures and a cloudy haze that seems to reel you into its center. It doesn’t help that the rhythms are hypnotic and interesting new sounds keep presenting themselves through its nine minute run time.
I’d also be remiss if I didn’t remark on how well the members are locked in throughout this album. In “How To See in The Dark”, Noah Leger’s rumbling drums meld seamlessly with Alianna Kalaba’s sinister bass groove. These all pave the way for Brian Case’s dark lyrics and pulsing waves of noise to wrap you up entirely. The title track is another standout, it’s the most standard post-punk song in the album with it’s narrated vocals and wailing instruments in the background. But it’s the details that make it shine, the straight-edged guitar lines, the bleak spacious reverb and foreboding lyrics make it a spine-chilling experience.
Not just amazing rock, but a sensory experience full of depth at each corner. FACS’ Present Tense is a confident and realized step up for the band, bringing with it a grim beauty that you’d scarcely find anywhere else.