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updated: 8/3/2011 10:00 AM

For Chicago's Disappears, less is more

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  • The moody Chicago rock band Disappears will play Lollapalooza on Saturday afternoon.

    The moody Chicago rock band Disappears will play Lollapalooza on Saturday afternoon.


Listen to Chicago band Disappears, and you enter a shimmery, shadowy world that's both exhilarating and frightening.

The band plays a stripped-down brand of rock 'n' roll, combining repetitive but propulsive rhythms with reverb-drenched guitar. The music recalls such moody post-punk bands as The Fall and Joy Division, but without sounding derivative or "retro."

Disappears' second full-length record, "Guider" (Kranky), came out earlier this year to strong reviews. Five of the record's six songs are concise blasts of pounding, jagged rock. The remaining song, "Revisiting," is a bracing epic that clocks in at nearly 16 minutes. The band will perform at Lollapalooza at 12:45 p.m. Saturday.

In an interview conducted via email, singer-guitarist Brian Case said he was searching for a minimalist sound when he founded Disappears with drummer Graeme Gibson, who has since amicably left the band. Case said he struggled at first to create repetitive rhythms that didn't become monotonous or boring.

"It's hard to get yourself to do one thing for any period of time," he said. "I always tell people to try and play one chord for five minutes -- it's tough but once you get into it, it becomes much easier to write from that perspective or place."

Gibson played drums on "Guider," but the band is now touring and recording with Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley. Shelley's presence has helped boost the band's profile, and it has forced Case and the other band members to view Disappears' songs in new ways, Case said.

The band will stay on the road after its Lollapalooza show (and an "aftershow" at the House of Blues on Saturday), playing a number of dates along the West Coast in August.

Case said the band is excited about performing on the Lolla stage, but he admits to being a bit nervous about it.

"It's tough to do for sure, especially when it's (noon) and it's a million degrees in the sun!" he said. "It's cool to do those things but a lot harder to break through to people -- it's a lot easier to connect in a club with someone. You can be really overwhelming in a good way in a small space with a PA and the right energy. In a huge open field, things can just float away or meld into something else."