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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Review: Swans - My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky

Every few years for some reason or other I go through periods of rediscovering the Swans.  This time it's due to both witnessing Jarboe perform solo (Note: Jarboe isn't featured in the new Swans line up) at the Supersonic festival in Birmingham last year and not long after hearing that Michael Gira had reformed the band. The eight song 'My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky' being the first recorded product of this new incarnation of the Swans.
Highlight tracks for me include album opener 'No Words/No thoughts', a ten minute epic that seems to be split in to four unique parts. The first being of a chorus of bells which is followed by rythmic slabs of sound not to dissimilar to a more textural version of the bands very early releases.  Then comes a more standard but dark rock section where Gira's Vocals are first introduced. This section builds up and down in tension until the finally kicks in - An undescribably intense passage that apears to be made up of keys, bells, guitar and percussion all rapidly coliding together until the songs final silence. 
Next highlight is 'Reeling the Liars in' which reminds me of early Leonard Cohen style folk music containing dark lyrics like "We are reeling the liars in, We are removing their face, collecting their skin, we are reeling the liars in" that paint pictures in your mind.
Then there's 'You fucking people make me sick', a melodic twisted ditty featuring the addition of haunting duet vocals from gira's daughter and suddenly cutting to a percussive section that seems to be made up of the repetition of a rumbling Kettle drum which then triggers off the texture of rumbling low Piano keys.

I recently read an interview where Michael Gira stated that after he wrote and recorded 'Eden prison'  He discovered that ironically  there was a prison called Mt Eden Prison in Auckland, New Zealand that seemed to fit the description of his lyrics.
Swans - 'Eden Prison' by theQuietus
Upon this album's release, I was excited to discover that the Swans will be playing at Auckland's Power Station on 6 March 2011.  Ironically when the Swans play that show, they will be performing only a few hundred meters from the walls of the previously mentioned song's name sake. 

For those unfamiliar with the Swans, I'd recommend 'My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky' to anyone who likes dark experimental Metal like Neurosis or early/mid 90s era Nick Cave ('Henry's Dream' in particular). For those who are familiar with them, imagine a cross of each part of Swans musical career (i.e. the very Early brutal slabs of noise, the mid era folk styles and the later era experimentation with repetitive rythims) but played by the Bad seeds. 
10 out of 10 Fishhooks through the eye sockets

For a taste of the Swans live, the below Youtube link is of the current Swans line up performing a rendition of the 'Greed/Holy Money' era (Mid 80s) song 'I Crawled'. 

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