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M. Gira | Drainland | Review

Metroland, Albany NY | J. Eric Smith

Drainland's oftentimes disturbing imagery makes it a record to avoid like buboes for the faint of constitution.

While quasi-religious gumpisms and random acts emerge as the preferred salves for the collective cultural conscience during our Fluffy Spirituality Phase, Michael Gira stands before the horrifically confrontational Swans screaming in confusion over the painful messiness involved with being animated (but transcendence seeking) meat. His limping quest to reconcile (and not just salve) the chafe of selfish bodily reality against social convention and spiritual aspiration is documented on records with Circus Mort, Swans, Skin (Gira), and The World of Skin, any of which can serve as an effective antidote to the unpleasant numbing and tingling effects caused by overuse of Fluffy Spirituality Salve.

Drainland, featuring fellow Swans Jarboe and Bill Rieflin, provides the newest chapter in Gira's progress as reluctant pilgrim. The Branca-meets-Wagner triple guitar attack of Swans' recent The Great Annihilator has been replaced with lean tape-loop/sample driven grooves wrapped in organ washes and resonant twelve-string drones. Gira's voice remains a natural wonder—a sepulchral bass that is both meditative and mournful, and is perfectly suited to songs with titles like "Why I Ate My Wife," "I See Them All Lined Up," and "Where Does the Body Begin?"

Drainland's oftentimes disturbing imagery makes it a record to avoid like buboes for the faint of constitution. However, for those willing to work through difficult art for content, Drainland can provide more illumination on the nature of transcendence and redemption that can any of the Chubby Angel's Homily Desk Calendars published this year. Guaranteed.

Copyright 1995 J. Eric Smith (GNHN)

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