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The Quietus - 2014 Albums of the Year

To Be Kind #3

"'I love you!' reads Michael Gira's address to his listeners, signing off the note announcing the release of Swans' thirteenth studio album. The open warmth of the sentiment might contrast with their agonisingly intense early music, but it captures the most striking aspect of this latest phase of his group's life cycle - its generosity. After a few seconds of near-silence - save filigree-fine electronic tones lingering in the air, eddying gracefully upward like sunlit dust motes caught in a draft - To Be Kind's centrepiece 'Bring The Sun/Toussaint L'Ouverture' explodes to life with a series of cosmic shockwaves, each struck chord's impact greater than the last, causing the atmosphere to tremble around you. Even though it's expected, the shock is exquisitely tactile, enough to suck the air out of your lungs. Percussion lances through your body cavity like the shudder from a skipped heartbeat, guitar textures ripple like fingers dragged hard across the skin, the music's weight presses firmly yet gently against your chest and back. Then, surging in almost immediately afterwards, a mass release of pleasure hormones triggers off sheer, clear-minded exhilaration." Rory Gibb

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