••• SIGNED BY M.GIRA•••
Drainland is a 1995 obscure solo album by me, co-produced by the lovely Bill Rieflin and myself, with musical contributions from Bill and Jarboe. Spare arrangements (recorded in Bill's living room) with the focus on words. Some of this is pretty damn good. Some of it isn't. Ha ha!
"You See Through Me" features a surreptitious recording by Jarboe of a drunken rant by me. I think I discovered the cassette one day in a drawer in her desk and decided to use it for a song dedicated to her ("you see through me"). Of course it's incredibly embarrassing to include on an album made for public consumption, but I thought it a legitimately good recording - a good "performance" in a way, despite the fact it was of slovenly, spiteful me. It could have been anyone. Well, maybe not. Prescient, it's subject was money. Anyway, it was just "material" and everything's fair game. In the end, it was an honest homage to Jarboe, though most people failed to notice that. "Fan Letter" and "Unreal" are seen from the perspective of a crazed fan's inverted worship of Madonna. " I See Them All Lined Up" (later re-recorded for Swans) is a naked hate/revenge diatribe, some of the most vile words I ever wrote. I apologize to all concerned. Thank god it’s not too obvious who the subject of my hatred was…. This album was and still is graciously released through Mr. Jello Biafra's Alternative Tentacles label. Photography by the esteemed Mr. Wim van de Hulst. - Michael Gira/Young God Records 2008
7/25/1995 | The Big Issue | Rob Mitchell
M. Gira | Drainland | Review
the Pied Piper of nihilism
This new solo album from Michael Gira of Swans fame, confirms his standing as the Pied Piper of nihilism. It is as brutal and upsetting as it is compelling and beautiful and it forces the listener to think, to reassess, to confront the most basically held truths, a rare thing in modern music. Musically is swings between discordant sonic battery and lush, spectral almost country ballads. Lyrically, it features Gira at his bluntest. His outlook is a worst-case scenario so horrific that one would wish to deny it outright, were it not so enticing: we are all just sacks of water and germs and our lives are a meaningless mistake.
Drainland screams with napalm imagery of death and misery. "You See Through Me" highlights explicitly the petty, vicious stupidity that characterizes our relationships through a quietly horrifying taped argument between a woman and her thieving, alcoholic partner. A relentlessly grim, celebrity-stalking nightmare unfolds over a whining, wheezy organ on "Fan Letter," taking the slaughterman's knife into our idol culture.
Gira puts plainly the ideas we spend our lives fleeing from against startling musical backdrops. How serious he is is open to question. Perhaps his answer is in the remarkable closing confessional, "Blind." Besides a warm, melodic patter his sad, deep voice intones, "I was never young, when I look in the mirror, I feel dead, I feel cold, I am blind."
If you can face it, Drainland is outstanding work.
10/1/1995 | The Wire | Biba Kopf / Drainland review
Aptly titled, Gira's Drainland is drained of blood, tears and excess emotion. Its songs are autopsies, body parts laid out on the mortician's slab and spoken-sung in bleak monotone. Well, Gira has always been the most Beckett-like of songwriters. Interlocking word and image in a manner that superficially suggests simple body mechanics—skull connected to your neckbone, etc. Yet the accumulative impact of bare-boned lines dovetailed with equally pared rhythm and melody and muscle-toned with sparse noise samples is emotionally devastating. This is a document of base drives. It could be subtitled "Death Is My Trade." It's an ugly business, but not without its grotesque, Ambrose Bierce-like humour. An opening taped dialogue featuring Jarboe and Michael is so naked it has you reaching for the light switch.
After nearly a decade and a half of turning inner turmoil into cathartic wastelands of tortured sound, Swans gurus Michael Gira and Jarboe have embarked on two new solo ventures: Sacrificial Cake marks Jarboe's third outing as a lone leader; Drainland is M. Gira's debut. Both discs fuse sex, violence, and considerable nihilism with the kind of disturbing intensity expected from a "Swans Related Project."
Amid trenchant layers of shimmering guitar and swampy synthetics, Gira explores the self-delusion of alcoholic detachment.
10/1/1995 | SF Weekly Review / Drainland review
Drainland kicks off with "You see through me," a verite-sounding taped encounter in which Jarboe confronts Gira with her anxiety about his "drinking too much." Gira argues that it's "your problem, not mine." and that she must now "support" his alcoholism: "Shut your mouth and get some money." The release closes with "Blind," Gira's acknowledgement of his "self-deception" and a plea for pity "Because when we're drinking/ We can never be filled." He intones, "When I look in the mirror/ I feel dead/ I feel cold / I am blind." Bloody images of "pleasure-pain and fear and hatred" weave through these soundtracks to chilling effect.