The CD Critic The Glowing Man Review

The Glowing Man – Swans

When Swans reformed in 2010 with the release of ‘My Father Will Guide Me up A Rope To The Sky’, people perhaps may not have predicted that the band would ultimately start releasing some of the most defining albums of their career. Having released two phenomenal double-albums ‘The Seer’ and ‘To Be Kind’, Swans return with their latest tour-de-force, ‘The Glowing Man’. The new album follows on much from what its predecessors established, offering gargantuan slabs of experimental post-rock that are as cryptic and enigmatic as ever. Once again, this is another challenging album experience that certainly isn’t for the faint-hearted, and one that is rather difficult to really put into words.

‘The Glowing Man’ continues much in the same vein as both ‘The Seer’ and ‘To Be Kind’, with each musician pushing along through noisy experimental tracks where everything is unrelenting yet brilliant. It’s in the uncompromising style that only Swans seem to have that we find what makes the music great. This is truly a head-space only they can create for us, with the result being something confusing yet powerful. Much of the album feels like a true companion piece to its predecessor ‘To Be Kind’, perhaps mostly in part to the similar motifs running throughout both albums (and perpetuated by the inclusion of the ‘Bring The Sun’ intro used on the previous album), but all together much tighter than they’ve ever managed. It all works well in providing a bookend to what is perhaps one of Swans’ most phenomenal and powerful musical chapters.

As with many albums by Swans, there is that incredible experimental element that comes with Swans’ music that makes it all a challenging listen. Combining elements of drone into their unique sound, we’re presented with something that occupies the foreground, whilst refusing to let the listener go. It’s all together a somewhat intimidating experience, and one that is truly difficult to put into words. It’s perhaps in this challenging yet unique style that only Swans have that we find the main focal point of many of their bodies of work, what it is that drives the albums along and gives it that quality that is so enthralling.

It seemed like Swans were at the height of their creativity with the release of 2012’s ‘The Seer’, and to have followed that album up with phenomenal ‘To Be Kind’ was an impressive feat. It now seems though that Swans have repeated this once again, with ‘The Glowing Man’ being a perfect follow up to its predecessor. Although there’s a great varience in Swans music, from their early no-wave years to their dark alternative rock years in the 90s, it seems that this current wave of music is what they were always meant to do, with it being perhaps some of the best music Swans have ever released. Whether or not ‘The Glowing Man’ signals the end of this current era of Swans or not, it’s certainly great to have seen it all in action.

Album Rating:
★★★★★ 5/5