It’s been one of those weeks, one of those weeks where you need a band like Swans in your life.
Dystopian, relentless grooves that pound into your very soul. Words that vary from passive aggression, downright hedonism to cosmic horror. Since their reforming in 1997 they have built up and developed this sound to it’s pinical on the last 3 albums which finishes with The Glowing Man their final work in the current bands formation.
Swans aren’t an easy listen and took me many repeat attempts to get into. Their sound doesn’t try to pander to public consensus instead it’s an outspoken unique voice of creativity and vision. Lead singer and multi-instrumentalist Michael Gira has cut his own way through the music industry. For years his small but dedicated fan base have crowd funded his creative endeavours before the likes of Kickstarer existed.
Because of this Swans have developed a sound that is rather unique, although I could relate it to the likes of acts like Godspeed You! Black Emperor textually but with the repetitive live looping sound from album Remain In Light by Talking Heads. To recommend one track is hard because the albums very much feel like they should be played as a whole or at least on sides of a vinyl. But this is the Track of the week segment so I guess I should stick to convention.
So with much thought I decided to pick “The World looks Red/The World Looks Black” and for a few reasons. It’s from the latest album “the glowing man” and I think promoting the newer work is important. It also manages to convey the Swans sound which needs time to get going as the loops repeat and build into an uproar of electric guitar and heavy bass and the track does this quite concisely for their works at just under fifteen minutes long. Finally it sonically has a lot of the textures from the previous two albums on this work. Through listening to the Swans back catalogue you get a real feeling of progression as they develop some ideas and remove others. This creates albums that although based round the same gene of ideas are varied in sound. Different people will prefer different albums depending on the paths they have chosen to go down but the albums also work as a collection. Something I love as someone who listens to entire back catalogues of artists works.
Swans have been a unique voice in alternative music for decades now and will continue to in the future as the formation of the band change. Whatever happens next I will look forward to it with exited anticipation: