Archive for yellow swans

Dove Yellow Swans – Live During War Crimes 3 (Release the Bats) 2009

Posted in Drone, Music, noise, yellow swans with tags , , , on April 17, 2011 by noisenoisenoise

After the Yellow Swans broke up they released the final chapter in the excellent Live During War Crimes series. Like the first two records, Live During War Crimes 3 captures the band in full frontal assault, harsh drone territory. The four untitled tracks on display here are almost overwhelming. They each churn away as if the shimmering transcendencies of their later work got taken over by the forces of evil. The first track in particular is something so brutally oppressive listening through the full 25 minutes seems foolish in retrospect.

It is only on the fourth track that light and oxygen are allowed to filter through the noise and its 25 minutes strikes a fantastic balance between noise, experimentalism and drone. In many ways it is closer to the tracks on Burning Star Core’s Papercuts Theater – a record that is undoubtably heavy going but ultimately  rewarding …. once my ears were able to tease out the subtlety.

Live During War Crimes 3 is not a place to start if you’ve never heard the band before but for Yellow Swans tragics, this tricky to track down, final hurrah is worthwhile getting. Track 4 especially made me miss them all over again.

Yellow Swans – Bring The Neon War Home (Narnuck) 2005

Posted in Drone, Music, noise, yellow swans with tags , , , on February 10, 2011 by noisenoisenoise

I miss Yellow Swans. Their last two albums were some of the finest noise/experimental/drone/whatever records you’ll ever hope to hear. They were particularly stunning in their ability to move from their more noisier incarnation to some truly beautiful sound moments. They were my favourite “noise” band. I suppose part of that bias is that the Yellow Swans were one of the first noise bands that I’d heard and when I began  my explorations of tuneless music, those Live During War Crimes records on Sweden’s Release the Bats were my soundtrack.

For those of us who are into the band the releases of Yellow Swans fall into two broad categories: The proper albums like At All Ends and Going PLaces and the albums where they became D.Yellow Swans (Dreamer, Drowned, Dove, Drift, Descension). Yet, stylistically, whether I listen to the “D” records or their proper releases, the progression of the Yellow Swans sound is quite linear.

Take their proper release from 2005, Bring The Neon War Home. I’ve been meaning to get this for the past four years and it was only last week that I saw it sitting in my local indie rip-off store. On this record the band sound like they are having a crap load of fun. In some ways it reminds me of a classier, noisier, more fully realised version of Hospital’s Hairdryer Peace. That comaprison comes not only from the scope of the ideas that each record contains but also the heavy use of dub underneath all the squall. The use of electronica and are I say it, minimalist techno beats under the soaring and quite majestic noise rock, makes me think of Black Dice but that said Bring The Neon War Home is a much more “together” affair. In the final track the beats are abandoned and instead we get a sign post of the calm, yet noisy beauty which would mark their later work.

It is an excellent record. It gives me  the same buzz I got from heating Burning Star Core’s Challenger for the first time.

Yellow Swans with John Wiese – Portable Dunes (Helicopter) 2009

Posted in Drone, John Wiese, Music, noise, yellow swans with tags , , , , on June 4, 2010 by noisenoisenoise

As each new Yellow Swans record has been released the band has drifted away from their extreme noise roots to embrace the more avant garde end of drone. Their recent career closer, Going Places, is a testament to just how good the band became in riding the whole beauty/nasty axis. This collaboration between two giants of noise, was released by Wiese’s Helicopter label last year. There are enough other reviews out there is you want a blow by blow description of the tracks (the first one is noisy, the second droney with silence etc) but my overwhelming impression  with this record is one of extreme sadness. The thing I never expected about noise when I first started listening a few years ago is the depth of emotion that some of these records contain. A record label blurb described Yellow Swans Live During War Crimes  as 42 black minutes of creepy soundscapes painting a depressive picture of a world going down in dust and ashes. Portable Dunes is what remains after the dust settles. Essential.

Birchville Cat Motel & Yellow Swans (Important) 2006

Posted in Birchville Cat Motel, noise, yellow swans with tags , , , , on March 30, 2010 by noisenoisenoise

(If you think you’ve read this before it is probably because you have. This is a review I did in 2006 that was combined with BCM’s Chi Vampires – I hate my review for that record so decided to have another go and post them separately)

I don’t know what it is, but once Yellow Swans decide to team up with other noise artists the results are certainly a mixed bag. I recently came into possession of their outing with The Cherry Point, Live at Camp Blood. Now that is the most horrendous thing I’ve heard in quite a while. There is no light just an unrelenting maw of the most extreme noise. It’s a sadistic slice of ear-buggery.

Likewise there is little light in their outing with BCM. It consists of two tracks which were recorded during Yellow Swans tour of New Zealand. Terminal Saints clocks in at over 27 minutes and starts promising enough. An incessant mid- frequency throb gets proceedings underway. Found sounds are added as the tension slowly builds and then …. nothing. This is pure BCM in many ways. The track does not build to a crescendo. It merely exists. Perhaps the point is the tension. The electronic throb stays constant but the intensity of the track slowly builds as layer upon layer is added, before each new noise is thrown aside for the next. When it seems the track will collapse under its own weight, it teeters on the edge before retreating  and continues …. incessantly. There is no relief. There is only noise.

The second track is Marble Carcass which comes in at a sprightly 22 minutes. This track is a very different beast from the first. At times it is an extreme ugly chaotic mess but at least there is relief. The noise does what is supposed to do. It cannibalises itself in a self indulgent, aural orgy of bastardry.

In the end the collaboration works but it never trumps their individual output.

Yellow Swans – Going Places (Type) 2010

Posted in Music, noise, yellow swans with tags , , , on March 29, 2010 by noisenoisenoise

Yellow Swans split  up some time ago yet there have been a cascade of new release over the last couple of years. My geeky fandom for this band is well documented on this site. I love this band but I assure you that I can be objective. Going Places is the best thing they have ever done.  In fact Yellow Swans were one of those bands that just got better and better with each new release. I love my noise and if you listen to those early Yellow Swans records, they certainly were a noise band but they slowly morphed into something which used toned down noise elements and instruments to create colour in what could have been standard drone. Going Places is extraordinary, a treat for noise and drone nerds everywhere. The most extraordinary track on an extraordinary record is Opt Out. This is drone and noise-ambience on an epic scale. Layer open layer of bubbling fuzz, drone and hiss provides a foundation for ethereal ambience and strings to float over  a core of hostile noise which at times attempts to breakout but is never actually released.  Maybe Yellow Swans have posthumously created a new genre of “post-noise”?

I’m calling it now – If this isn’t album of the year in December  I’ll burn those old copies of The Wire in protest.

Mudsuckers – Mudsuckers (Important) 2005

Posted in Mudsuckers, Music, noise, yellow swans with tags , , , , on February 8, 2010 by noisenoisenoise

The Mudsuckers were  a collaboration between The Charlambide’s Tom Carter, experimental musician Robert Horton and GMS of Yellow Swans. I’ve owned this for a couple of years and bought it primarily on the Yellow Swans collection because I am a Yellow Swans nerd – end of story. For the most part this is on the same noise dimension as a Yellow Swans record but have you ever wondered what Sonic Youth’s Death Valley 69 would have sounded like if Mouthus and Yellow Swans covered it and removed all the tune. I hadn’t,  but when listening to the extremely fine  opening track Endocrine Disrupters, that whole desert gothic, no wave vibe gurgles under the layers of distortion and drone to produce something very special indeed. Although nothing else quite reaches magnificent heights of the opener, the remaining four tracks are great examples of improvised noise and processed field recordings. Mudsuckers is one of those great noise records that rewards with repeated listens because I guarantee that every time you listen to this you’ll hear something new. Remarkable.

(Dove) Yellow Swans – Live During War Crimes (Release the Bats) 2006

Posted in Music, noise, yellow swans with tags , , on October 31, 2009 by noisenoisenoise


I’m pretty sure that this is the first Yellow Swans record I heard and listening to it again after a break of about two years, I am in awe of just how good Yellow Swans were. Although they broke up over a year ago I still miss them. They took noise as a genre and it made it into something far more powerful and wonderful than most of their contemporaries. They were, and I hesitate to use the word, producing a sophisticated, multi-textured sound that I still don’t think anyone else has matched. Mouthus and Burning Star Core probably come closest to the just how sublime Yellow Swans were and if you have any love of noise then I can’t stress how much you need to get this. Live During War Crimes is a compilation  which brings together previously released tracks that appeared on limited run CDr’s and cassettes.  For their majority of their releases Yellow Swans added a word beginning with D in front of their name  which changed with each new release. The tracks on this were originally performed by Drill, Demonic and Dusk Yellow Swans and appeared on labels like Scratch and Sniff, Hung Like a Horse and Collective Jyrk but is is a mystery as to which of the six untitled tracks relate to which release. All of the tracks date from 2004 which is probably why the record works better than your average compilation.
It’s hard to describe the racket Yellow Swans make. On this record they manage to combine drone, visceral noise, rhythm, texture, guitars and electro-fuckery to create an improvised “something” which at times is almost beautiful. In fact, for those really looking for  noise nirvana then this may be the record for you. They got lumped in with bands like Wolf Eyes but I’ not sure that comparison was ever particularly sensible. Although there are moments of noise mayhem, the Yellow Swans were always a couple of steps removed those more visceral bands. When I listen to this I realise that along with Burning Star Core, Yellow Swans were (are) probably my favorite noise band. If you find a copy of this just buy it.

Yellow Swans – Deterioration (Modern Radio) 2008

Posted in Music, noise, yellow swans with tags on June 23, 2008 by noisenoisenoise



In a couple of days time The Yellow Swans will be no more. Deterioration will not be their last record (there should be an “official” release in 2009) but if it had been then good lord what a way to go out. I had no idea that this had even been released and it was only by accident that I found it last week. This record is nearly a perfect distillation of how good the  Yellow Swans can be. In fact, I like this better than At All Ends (and boy did I love that record). It’s a thrilling ride through drone, noise and experimental rock. In fact it is an important reminder of just how vital avant garde, experimental music can be.  As I was listening to Deterioration again today it struck me how it sounds like a noise version of the  aural dynamics pioneered by God Speed You Black Emperor.  I can’t recommend this highly enough. 

The thing I find sad about this release is that it is clear from Deterioration that Yellow Swans were only getting better and better and I wonder just how far they could have gone. I have no idea whether this is in wide release and I urge you to track it down. This is the  first truly great record of 2008 (and it only took until June!)

Sunroof! – Panzer Division Lou Reed (VHF) 2007

Posted in Music, noise, Sunroof!, yellow swans with tags , , , on May 18, 2008 by noisenoisenoise

A couple of weeks ago a reader left a comment on this blog alerting me to the imminent demise of Yellow Swans. On June 30 of this year they will be no more. Now I fucking love the Yellow Swans and after the excellent At All Ends I was really looking forward to where they were going next. So I again look to greener pastures on my journey through experimental music. One of the bands that I’d heard of but hadn’t heard was Sunroof!. Sunroof ! is the band of Matthew Bowers, the veteran experimental artist that was also behind Skullflower (another band I’ve heard of but haven’t heard). I thought it was time to give them a go and I started with Panzer Division Lou Reed because firstly it is their latest and secondly because it was the only Sunroof record I could find in my local rip-off record store.

I’ve read a couple of other reviews and they all seemed to mention that his is one of the more aggressive and dense recordings that Sunroof! have produced and is a swerve to the left from their usual drone based recordings. I have no idea whether that is true. This is the only Sunroof! record I’ve listened to, so I have nothing to compare it to. What I will say though, is that this is one of the most challenging yet interesting noise records I currently own. It’s a big slice of improvised rock-noise that certainly took me aback when I first listened to it. I’ve wrestled with it now for couple of weeks and I’m pretty happy with the journey it took me on. This sounds similar to those Yellow Swans records when they preface their name with a word beginning with D. In particular I though that this sounded a lot like Dreamed Yellow Swans which is now sadly out of print. I’m a sucker for this type of noise and although the reviews I read weren’t exactly positive, having no knowledge of what their other records sound like allows me to approach it with an independent mind. This record is great and if you are a Yellow Swans freak like myself then Panzer Division Lou Reed is well worth tracking down.

Sunroof Live 2007!

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