Angels of Light | Review | Eric Harvey

Gira's post-Swans material can definitely stand with, perhaps even surpass, his earlier work

New Music: Angels of Light: "We Are Him" / "Black River Song" [Stream]

Second acts for rock musicians come relatively often, but those that add something fresh and new to the artist's catalog are rare indeed. Since the 1997 dissolution of goth-metal pioneers Swans, Michael Gira has released a series of records as Angels of Light, a heading that covers his wide-ranging collaborative efforts, which lately includes working with drone-folk band Akron/Family. If these two songs are any indication of the rest of the forthcoming We Are Him--which also features contributions from industrial multi-instrumentalist Bill Rieflin, former Swan Christoph Hahn, and cellist Julia Kent from Antony and the Johnsons, among others-- it could stand as strong evidence that Gira's post-Swans material can definitely stand with, perhaps even surpass, his earlier work.

The two advance singles from We Are Him continue Gira's solo trend toward a
symbolic reversal, perhaps an atonement, for what Gira himself called the "bludgeoning, single-minded violence" of Swans' music, and a fervent procession toward redemption. The album's title track opens with an oscillating, meditative, minute-long drone before launching into the inclement, muscular blues environs of the song proper. Over Akron/Family's, watertight rollick, Gira intones a series of fire-and-brimstone three-syllable chants-- "Let him in," "Through your skin," "Set him free,"  "Be his friend"-- like a preacher unwilling to take no for an answer.

Stream: > Angels of Light: "We Are Him"

The band is equally cyclic and strident on "Black River Song", and the austerity of Gira's vocals, illuminating the dark current running through "every man, woman and child," echo another two-career artist with one foot in the avant-garde, John Cale.

Stream:: > Angels of Light: "Black River Song"

[from We Are Him; available August 2007 on Young God Records]