Angels of Light | How I Loved You | ReviewThis time around, Gira's baritone voice is found to be singing love songs. The musical career of Michael Gira is much akin to that of Nick Cave (this similarity I point out only for those not familiar to the former, although, some may say, "Nick who?"). Both began wreaking havoc on our ears with their first bands—Gira with the Swans and Cave with the Birthday Party. In 1983, the Swans released Filth, a visceral, aural portrait of body and mind. The early Swans LPs were like nothing else—filled with rhythmic undulations and amazing with their level of self-depreciation. With the release of Burning World in 1989, a change in approach was quite apparent. Gone was the bludgeoning sound, replaced with a beautiful melancholy. This transition, however, never affected my reaction to the music; it still scared me with its brilliance. I think this is were the aforementioned Nick Cave comparison ends. Yes, the Birthday Party ended and Nick grew up with the Bad Seeds, but his transformation wasn't as profound as the Swans' transformation from an ugly ducking into a...swan. Album after album, the Swans made some of the most pleasing music I have ever heard. The Swans were "terminated" by Gira in 1997.
Another change took place when the first Angels of Light album, New Mother, was released in 1999. Jarboe, Gira's right-hand lady, was gone from the musical fold and the music had grown more sparse. The songs were as full in sound as with the Swans, yet maintained a folkier, stripped-down feel. How I Loved You continues in this path. This time around, Gira's baritone voice is found to be singing love songs. Yet they are love songs written by Michael Gira and Celene Dion he ain't, so don't let this fact scare ya. This album has not so much a country feel, but more of a western one. Gira has always had a knack for bringing out the filmic qualities in his music. Listening to "My True Body," I can not help one but hear the influence of Hugh Montenegro and Ennio. One problem I had with the first Angels record was that a lot of the backing vocals sounded like Jarboe's voice. I don't know if this was Gira's intention or the vocalist's but it always bothered me. That's since been resolved. Bliss Blood of the Pain Teens duets on the Hawaiian steely/country-slidy "Untitled Love Song." If you've ever been a Swans fan or just have a liking of melancholic music, you'll surely dig this record. It's truly alive.