M. Gira | Drainland | Review

The Big Issue | Rob Mitchell

the Pied Piper of nihilism

This new solo album from Michael Gira of Swans fame, confirms his standing as the Pied Piper of nihilism. It is as brutal and upsetting as it is compelling and beautiful and it forces the listener to think, to reassess, to confront the most basically held truths, a rare thing in modern music. Musically is swings between discordant sonic battery and lush, spectral almost country ballads. Lyrically, it features Gira at his bluntest. His outlook is a worst-case scenario so horrific that one would wish to deny it outright, were it not so enticing: we are all just sacks of water and germs and our lives are a meaningless mistake.

Drainland screams with napalm imagery of death and misery. "You See Through Me" highlights explicitly the petty, vicious stupidity that characterizes our relationships through a quietly horrifying taped argument between a woman and her thieving, alcoholic partner. A relentlessly grim, celebrity-stalking nightmare unfolds over a whining, wheezy organ on "Fan Letter," taking the slaughterman's knife into our idol culture.

Gira puts plainly the ideas we spend our lives fleeing from against startling musical backdrops. How serious he is is open to question. Perhaps his answer is in the remarkable closing confessional, "Blind." Besides a warm, melodic patter his sad, deep voice intones, "I was never young, when I look in the mirror, I feel dead, I feel cold, I am blind."

If you can face it, Drainland is outstanding work.