The Body Lovers | Number One of Three | Review

University of Toronto

unified and emotion-laden music

Anyone who has spent as long doing music like Michael Gira deserves respect. Unfortunately, there are few artists around who can match Gira’s fifteen-odd-year commitment to a singular vision. As the father and main member of the Swans since the early eighties, he perpetuated an instantly recognizable style throughout perpetual personnel and sonic changes. While the Swans’ fellow New Yorkers and initial touring mates Sonic Youth became lost in a poptastic daydream of commercial acceptance, Gira got down in the underground and created masterworks like The Great Annihilator and Soundtracks for the Blind. Now the Swans are gone, and Gira is solo. Gira may be solo, but on The Body Lovers he gets musical assistance from familiars like Jarboe, who was the Swans’ other vocalist and occasional songwriter and who adds some beautiful melismas to this mix, Kris Force, James Plotkin, Mike Vaino, and Bill Rieflin, who contributes some stunning piano pummelling. This mostly instrumental composition highlights Gira’s ability to create unified and emotion-laden music without words and without playing everything himself. This record forwards Gira’s career but is also forward looking. It sounds distinct from the Swans, while it continues Gira’s futuristic focus on building structures from the juxtaposition of blocks of sound produced on mostly acoustic instruments. The latter are warm and organic here; unlike most ambient albums, The Body Lovers posits a populated space. Gira here has created a forward-looking work for free-feeling and thinking bodies.