• NME live review

    () - M. Gira, Michael Gira, NME, SWANS, to be kind, young god



    () - M. Gira, Michael Gira, SWANS, young god

    Better Than: Standing in front of a sputtering jet engine. On Friday night at Warsaw (261 Driggs Avenue) in Greenpoint, Swans performed to a sold-out crowd of masochists, who seemed to welcome the punishing drone as though it were candy. Many in the crowd wisely wore earplugs. The sheer volume of Swans easily overpowered anyone who was silly enough to forget their pair at home. Speaking in purely referential terms, only My Bloody Valentine is louder. But while My Bloody Valentine's legendary 20-minute dissonant noise-pummeling takes place in the middle of "You Made Me Realise," Swans maintained that level of intensity for their two-hour set, giving in only occasionally for Michael Gira to scat-sing or for the band to transition between songs. Opening for Swans was the Brooklyn-based black-metal quartet Liturgy. Having recently reunited again as a four-piece band, their sound was crisp and cohesive. Notably absent from Liturgy's performance was Hunter Hunt-Hendrix's high-pitched screaming; instead the vocals resembled Gregorian chants, perhaps if Kurt Cobain took up the cassock. Though the abrupt change in vocal style was hinted at on the recorded version of "Glass Earth", there was a conspicuous sense of confusion among the crowd for a moment when......

  • Los Angeles Times Live Review

    () - Michael Gira, SWANS, young god

    Like the opening moment of a meditation session, the rock band Swans commenced the first of two sold-out nights at the Roxy in West Hollywood with the ringing of a gong. The gesture, driven with delicate mallet bumps by multi-instrumentalist Thor Harris, was a signal, a directive to the packed club on Wednesday: You are here. Turn off those noisy machines inside your skulls and in your pockets and focus on the Now. Over the next few minutes, the tone gained heft, a kind of thickness, and one by one the five other Swans appeared, grabbed an instrument and started adding to the hum.  What grew from electric guitars, a yowling lap steel, bass and percussion evolved into a heaving mass, one that seemed to sway as it gained volume. Ten minutes in, this hum, still lacking a basic rock rhythm, was a cascading rumble of harmonic overtones, feedback and echo, like a locomotive on looped tracks whooshing by again and again at full speed. It was awesome, and it only grew from there. At the middle was the imposing Michael Gira, 60, statuesque with a carved face, stringy shoulder-length hair, an intense presence girded by a spiritual devotion to......

  • Roundhouse, London – live review (Louder Than War)

    () - M. Gira, Michael Gira, SWANS, young god

    Swans | Okkyung Lee | Jas Shaw Roundhouse, London 21st May 2015 Michael Gira and his gang of sonic cohorts visited London’s Roundhouse venue for their biggest ever UK headline gig. Simon Tucker stepped into the breach for Louder Than War. Entering the circular space that is the Roundhouse you get an instant sense of history seeping through the air. The ghosts of a million artists swirl around, and tonight a conduit to the other plane will invoke, rile, and aggravate them. That conductor of spirits is Michael Gira who, with his tribe of marauding Swans, will pummel and tease those in attendance with some glorious voodoo magic. But first… Jas Shaw (Simian Mobile Disco) is first to enter the pen, painting a tripped out, analog synth-driven picture that doesn’t instantly grab the attention but as the set develops and we are taking into darker, and more intense territory, more and more people get drawn into his sonic sculpture. Pieces get darker and more layered as the set unfurls making for a pleasant brew of ambient textures and insidious drone. We are warming up nicely… Second support, Okkyung Lee is where the night REALLY starts to take us into the abyss......


    () - M. Gira, Michael Gira, SWANS, young god

    After blowing us away with 10 slept-on Seattle era grunge records, Nick Soulsby returns with an armful of essential Swans records from their pre-breakup chapter. Words: Nick Soulsby  Hauled from the grave in 2010, Michael Gira’s resurrected Swans have garnered vast critical and popular respect. Amid a swarm of reformations cashing in nostalgia checks, the band stands near alone with a recent run of albums living up to every inch of their daunting reputation. It wasn’t always the way. Laid to rest in 1998 with the emphatic Swans Are Dead, Gira had concluded Swans’ aura was an albatross to be slain. A tragedy. Swans back catalog offers a depth of lyrical vision, musical innovation and sheer power rarely equaled. Here are ten albums from the first life of Swans that deserve an awed bow of admiration and a few hours of ear-time. As ever we’ve compiled tracks from the records into the playlist below, and scroll down to check out the albums individually.   SwansCop(K.422, 1984)Cop is a growling testament to the brutality of Swans’ early vision. Repetitive mantras disguise complex rhythmic patterns underscored Gira’s full-throated declamations of power, surrender, annihilation. These were metal riffs and vocals reduced to the......