To be kind by Swans just missed out on my albums of the year list. This isn’t the kind of record you can put on in the background, it demands your attention and at over two hours long it can feel quite daunting to get into it. I also wouldn’t say the average listener of modern music (especially those who listen to albums rather than singles) will get much from the album. But those who like to immerse themselves in the music and are happy to give two hours of attention to an artist’s vision this could be something quite profound.
The Swans sound focuses on repetitive short melodies that will slowly build in layers over several minutes becoming more and more aggressive and oppressive. At first this can feel quite fatiguing but if you give it time it becomes hypnotic, almost meditative. This stems from the fundamental grooves, which are masterfully created. Short and often simple yet no matter how many times they are repeated, they never bore.
Oxygen comes towards the end of the second album and at 8 minutes long its one of the shorter tracks. It’s more direct, stripping away longer builds found on earlier parts of the album and getting straight into it. The standout drumming on this track by Phil Puleo is phenomenal which with the guitar guides the rest of the track to its harsh stabbing conclusion.