Archive for the Swans Category

Swans – Soundtracks for The Blind (Young God) 1996

Posted in noise, Swans with tags , on March 1, 2010 by noisenoisenoise

In all my time writing this blog I’ve written, I reckon, three negative reviews. The fist one was Swans Greed/Cop/Holy Money/Young God record which I think I referred to as a slog and rather boring. To save you scrolling through these pages the other two I thought were quite ordinary were Justice Yeldhams Cicatrix (the name still annoys me and the glass thing doesn’t translate well to record) and Sir Richard Bishop’s dinner party favourite, The Freak of Araby.  The only one of those reviews I really regret is the one for the Swans because in the two years that have passed I have grown to love the brutal, menacing  pugnaciousness of that record. So much so that I’ve decided to head straight back into the Swans back catalogue to see what gems I can find.  Before buying Greed et al my only experience of the band had been the overblown This Burning World and White Light From The Mouth of Infinity which I remember as being alot better  but it didn’t do much for me at the time. I sold both sometime in the late 1990’s which depresses me because White Light is now commanding stupid money on ebay and amazon and well, I wish I could hear it again.

Soundtracks for the Blind was their last record. It’s a double and by Lord what a record it is. I always thought that latter era Swans was full of the bleak but strangely beautiful, baritone laced liturgies like those found on White Light. Soundtracks For The Blind proved that theory wrong because its is an assortment of different ideas and sounds. In his recent Invisible Jukebox in The Wire, Gira thought that God Speed you Emperor might have got some of their ideas form Swans and at the time I scoffed but when I listened to the epic Helpless Child on Disc 1, I realised that his grand view of Post Rock is not that far removed from some of the sounds on Lift Your skinny Fists …..

There are grand gestures on this record. It is laden with an arrogance distilled by a band that knew they were leaving on a high note. Why this doesn’t make an appearance in those 100 Best Records of all Time lists only attests to how many more people need to hear this. Disc one sweeps from the stunning Helpless Child to a slab of martial no-wave (Yum-Yab Killers) to the atmospheric post-Doom rumble of The Beautiful Days before descending into  Bjork-ish take on trip hop (Volcano). In between these substantial tracks are nestled instrumental vignettes of melancholia and strangeness. There is a strong smell of Throbbing Gristle on All Lined  Up before Gira croons Bad Seeds style on the disc closer Animus.

Disc two is another heady ride where Post Rock themes wrestle with moments of avant garde experimentation. It’s a less strange ride than the first disc but similar influences make an appearance and some of the tracks are no less epic (The Sound). As an album it is extraordinary how a record that has elements of so many different genres works so well as a cohesive whole. If you’re thinking of buying this (and you should) get it from Gira himself and he’ll sign it for you.

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Sword Heaven – Entrance (Load ) 2007

Posted in Music, noise, Swans, Sword Heaven, Wolf Eyes on January 25, 2009 by noisenoisenoise

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Sometimes when I add the video’s from youtube to accompany these posts I am a bit conflicted. Some of the video’s show that, live a band can be a very different beast than what’s on the  record itself. A case in point is Shit and Shine. The joyous, collective drumfests that pepper youtube are not quite representative of their pretty humourless yet no less exciting recorded work. For this post on Sword Heaven the video I’ve added is, in my humble opinion, is spot on. What Sword Heaven produce is the sound of early Swans updated for the post Wolf Eye’s generation. Entrance is a bleak, repetitive noise/rock opus where light and sound are enveloped by a black hole of malevolence. I’ve never been a huge fan of the Swans early work. I’ve always found it terribly dull.  But Sword Heaven work for me in a way I thought it wouldn’t. Perhaps  its  because much of Entrance reminds me of the visceral death-disco of Wolf Eye’s seminal Village Oblivia or it may be because Sword Heaven slowly evolve their tracks and propel them forward in a way that makes them far more interesting than their early 1980’s kin. For a duo from Columbus, Ohio, Sword Heaven make a huge racket, creating repetitive, lurching noise and electronic fuckery that both suck the air out of the room yet remain just on the rock side of the rock/noise divide. Load have released some great records over the years and you should add Entrance to that list.  

Swans – Cop/Young God, Greed/Holy Money (Thirsty Ear) 1999

Posted in Music, Swans on September 11, 2007 by noisenoisenoise

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I’ve noticed that I’ve been concentrating on records I really like. Here’s one I don’t. 

For your asistance here are some words to describe this record:

 
Main Entry:   flatulent
Part of Speech:   adjective
Definition:   pretentious
Synonyms:   bombastic, inflated, long-winded, oratorical, overblown, pompous, prolix, shallow, superficial, swollen, tedious, tumescent, tumid, turgid, windy, wordy
Antonyms:   timid
Source:   Roget’s New Millennium™ Thesaurus, First Edition (v 1.3.1)
Copyright © 2007 by Lexico Publishing Group, LLC. All rights reserved.

Here’s another:

turd 

–noun Slang: Vulgar.

1. a piece of excrement.
2. a mean, contemptible person.

And another:

bleak
adjective
1.  offering little or no hope; “the future looked black”; “prospects were bleak”; “Life in the Aran Islands has always been bleak and difficult”- J.M.Synge; “took a dim view of things” [syn: black
2.  providing no shelter or sustenance; “bare rocky hills”; “barren lands”; “the bleak treeless regions of the high Andes”; “the desolate surface of the moon”; “a stark landscape” [syn: bare
3.  unpleasantly cold and damp; “bleak winds of the North Atlantic” 

Bleak? I do bleak. I don’t do pompous overblown crap like this though.  The Swans produced some great albums (anyone want to sell me a copy of White Light from the Mouth of Infinity) and I suppose curiosity and Michael Gira’s involvement with Akron/Family got the better of me. This record is the first three Swans albums along with an EP. It charts their output from 1984-1986. I’ve tried to like it, I really have, but it’s time to call this what it is.  I know I’m not cool but this is a turgid, bleak turd of a record.

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