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Body Lovers - Number One of Three

Mark Weddle

Overall impression: absolutely brilliant.

I had very high expectations for this disc, and I can truthfully say that they were completely blown away. I've had this cd for only 12 hours and it's already impossible for me to imagine life without it. Michael Gira has taken the first bold step from out of the shadow of the SWANS moniker. This disc, the first of three, exemplifies the instrumental skills of Gira and friends which have been foreshadowed on the last several years of SWANS' discs. The entire spectrum of sound is covered throughout: drones, horns, samples, keyboards, piano, electric and acoustic guitars, harmonica, viola, violin, subtle and furious percussion, etc and a brief stanza of lyrics on 1 track. The disc is meant to be one continuous listening experience, but track id points have been added where the music drastically changes. I love the whole thing, but tracks 8 - 10 are really incredible, especially 8 ... simply the most beautiful piece of music committed to tape I've heard in many, many years (and quite emotionally uplifting with each listen). I was actually surprised at how subtle and beautiful the majority of the disc is ... there are moments of abrasiveness, but on the whole the disc is very melodic. I consider this disc a brilliant step forward for MG and friends, they've really outdone themselves and hopefully the SWANS name will not hinder it's rightful recognition. The artwork (drawings by Nicole Boitos, packaging design/concept by MG) is, as always, excellent. I'm really looking forward to the accompanying "Body Haters" piece and parts 2 and 3 now. Highly recommended to any SWANS fan or anyone in search of first class instrumental music. Essential listening for 1998 and many years to come …

The following is a simplistic synopsis of each track:

1. (13:56)

- begins with a looped sound wave to which drones, metallic samples and light percussion are layered upon. It builds to a fairly loud and abrasive wash of noise in the 7th minute. From here, the track continues to build and swell with the squealing of electric guitars and drones until the 13th minute when it all reduces down to one over driven wave of sound. A giant introductory orgasm of sound ..

2. (5:32)

- begins with a harmonica melody to which a sample of Jarboe weeping is added. In the 2nd minute the track transforms into a beautifully sad acoustic guitar number. Horn accentuates the piece from the 3rd minute to the end ...

3. (10:00)

- begins with mellow (non abrasive) drones to which a moderate beat and gentle percussion are added in the 3rd minute. The percussion continues to slowly build throughout, but never becomes overwhelming. In the 8th minute the drones come to an abrupt end and the percussion continues alone. In the 9th minute an abrupt keyboard (?) melody kicks in and ends up being the finale of the piece as the percussion stops.

4. (6:13)

- the melody from track 3 continues into 4 then stops as William Rieflin's manic piano lines takeover. Bizarre drones pop in and out and the piano ends in the 2nd minute. An onslaught of percussion and keyboard then takes over, occasionally bridged with miscellaneous sine wave bursts. The percussion ends in the 4th minute leaving behind a looped sine drones. In the latter portion of the 4th minute, an unidentified sample fades in (which I think I recognize from a previous SWANS album) and is backed with an ambient drone. The sample fades away in the 5th minute and the remaining ambience continues to the end ...

5. (5:01)

- Gentle electric guitar strums and hi-hats open the track. Drones (possibly strings of some sort) kick in as backing, then a sample of Jarboe's singing voice comes in. In the 2nd minute a bass guitar rhythm is added to help propel the building of the track. In the 4th minute, everything ends except the basic melody on keyboard ...

6. (5:20)

- the melody from the end of 5 continues into 6 until a bevy of sine waves and drones take over. In the second minute metallic bell-like percussion is added to the mix. This builds up until the 4th minute when the track becomes a more quiet drone ...

7. (3:53)

- the quiet drone is accompanied with bell like sounds and a steady bass drum/hi-hat beat. An accordion melody is then added. In the second minute, another melody is added (possibly guitar?). A percussive sample is then added in the 3rd minute and the beat fades away, then the drones and sample fade away leaving just the bell-like melody ...

8. (8:51)

- a quiet drone begins the track. In the second minute a sample of a woman singing in an odd tongue is added. The drone ends leaving the woman. In the 2nd minute a gentle wash of sound, delicate electric guitar strums, bass guitar and percussion begin. This continues to gently build up and a sine drone melody is added. In the 6th minute, the track begins to slow down as the guitar and bass strums resonate a little longer with each strum and the percussion becomes more sparse until fading away in the final minute. This is quite simply the most beautiful piece of music I've heard in many years ...

9. (8:58)

- delicate electric guitar picking begins the track and more guitar and samples are added in the following minutes. The track continues along until the 4th minute when the sample leaves. The plucked melodies continue until gentle washes of distorted sound (possibly strings?) enter in the 6th minute, followed by a sample of a crying baby ("Ryland Walker Patterson on the occasion of his circumcision" the credits say) which fades in the 7th minute. The melody fades away in the 8th minute as Gira's gentle voice takes over the melody with a stanza of lyrics. MG's voice ends the track alone ...

10. (5:40)

- gentle electric guitar strums, percussion and bass guitar (very similar to the last several minutes of track 8) begin the track and continue throughout. The track comes to an abrupt and unnatural sounding end at the 5:40 mark ...

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