Angels of Light | The Gypsy Tea Room, Dallas
Gira plunges headfirst into the blackest depths.
ONE OF THE MOST SUBVERSIVE-BUT-POIGNANT RHETORICAL QUESTIONS EVER ASKED BY AN ALBUM title came from one of the most opaque of songwriters, D. Boon, with the Minutemen's What makes a man start fires? A howling affair of jazz-inflected punk, the album is full of Boon's socio-political rants, but is also infused with layers of reflection that try to gain a glimpse at the heart of man. Songsmith Michae1 Gira is cut from the same introspective mode, but where Boon used the lighter side to explore darker issues, Gira plunges headfirst into the blackest depths. He fronted one of America's heaviest - both sonically and emotionally - ensembles, Swans, a rush-hour pile-up of industrial cacophony and ambient textures that lasted for a rumbling 15 years. Now, Gira's mind has sprouted two offspring: Body Lovers, a continuation of Swans' concrete collages, and The Angels of Light, in which he employs a more austere alchemy. His fondness for folk is the major discovery on Angels' debut, New Mother (Young God): Lilting melodies touched with orchestral textures swim in a bottomless sonic pit on this album. It's occasionally odd and undoubtedly alarming to Swans fans, but Gira's lyrical gift remains, and he uses vivid imagery to explore the underbelly of his mortal coil in the vein of the two Nicks (Cave and Drake), as well as that other dark prince of pop, Leonard Cohen.