Swans | Soundtracks for the Blind | Review

CMJ Jackpot | Megan Frampton

their last studio release as Swans

Throughout their 15-year history, Swans have continually dabbled in excess, and this double-CD (their last studio release as Swans, they claim), is no exception. Although this release is titled as a soundtrack, and there are plenty of wandering, loosely constructed tracks, the songs themselves are filled with abrasive, grinding percussion that would be too intrusive to be used as a background in a film. This aesthetic—long, drawn-out, slower-than-slow songs that are harsh and ominous—has epitomized Swans songs since lead Swan Michael Gira first matched music to his menacing lyrics. This set includes the aforementioned soundtrack-style tunes, some live material and studio songs which have been processed and reconfigured by Gira, as well as songs written by the other permanent Swan, Jarboe. When paired with the ubiquitous dirgey drones, the once innocent samples take on a new creepy dimension that leaves the listener feeling vaguely perverted, merely by listening. Always disturbing and now at the end of their current incarnation, Gira and Jarboe live up to everything they've ever promised, both in creativity and fear.