Tuesday 17 August 2010

Swans Will Guide Me Up A Rope And Into A Noose - With Glee...

Swans. What a dirty, dirty bunch of punks. There is something incessantly evil about these pioneering New York post-punk crossroads demons. I only have ever owned Children of God, and whilst I often come back to it, it isnt one that has had the grooves worn out from over-use. Furthermore, Michael Gira is a man who does all he can not to be liked. Which makes him irresistably interesting.

So we come to the first album Swans have put out in 14 years, My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope And Into The Sky. Brilliant album title. Accompanied by very impressive cover art (see above). It had me in awe already... But what of the album itself?

It befits the inverse saying, 'DO judge a book by its cover.' Im a big, big fan of this album. Opener 'No Words/No Thoughts' is the perfect precursor to the record - light charming chimes hold sway - for 40 seconds. Then the obligatory guitar, drums and organ break in. Which is still lightweight, as the sound ratchets up a few more notches, squelching, squealing and buzzsawing through your brain and playing havoc with your sinuses. Then it abruptly stops, before those Christmas chimes can be heard again, although with a new tempo, accompanied by insistent cymbals...then Gira's iconic baritone echoes across the void. And we're only halfway through the song! If this song does anything, it introduces to the world that Gira and co. aren't fucking around - this is an album, damn it! And its gonna take your soul!

Over the course of the next 49 minutes, we are treated to dark Lou Reed-esque crooning about eviscerating liars ('Reeling The Liars In'), Spanish arpeggios intermingling with psych rock ('Jim'), industrial sirens and militaristic stomps ('My Birth')...and Devendra Banhart ('You Fucking People Make Me Sick')? And of course, infused throughout with Gira's tortured lyrics...

My Father is not just a worthy return, but a damned sight better than most would have you believe. It highlights all the great things about Swans, showcasing both Gira's sharp and obscure songwriting prowess combined with an amalgam of unrelenting ferocity with brooding dirges and off-kilter 'light' moments (like closer 'Little Mouth'). A true marriage of past-past Swans and past Swans - anger and musical fury with anger and acoustic accoutrements - Im putting this on repeat for the rest of the week.

My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope And Into The Sky comes out Spetember 26th on Gira's Young God Records (also home to Banhart, Akron/Family, James Blackshaw and Fire On Fire). See Swans when they headline Supersonic in Birmingham, October 22-24 (a truly eclectic line-up, with fellow headliners Godflesh and Michael Rother (AKA Neu!) highlighting the breadth of musical obscurity on offer - sounds like it was made for Sonic Masala to be honest!)

And for your listening pleasure, one of the tracks I mentioned, and one I didnt!

Swans - You Fucking People Make Me Sick
Swans - Eden Prison

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