Angels of Light | How I Loved You | Review
Gira has been making some of the best music in the world, taking pain as his point of departure.
"My pain is pointless and endless," sings Michael Gira on "My True Body,"
the incredible third song on How I Loved You. It's not so. Since the early
'80s, when he rode a band called Swans to semi-prominence on hugely
amplified waves of sound and fury, Gira has been making some of the best
music in the world, taking pain as his point of departure. Angels Of Light,
Gira's more song-oriented post-Swans outlet, is a collaborative whose only
non-negotiable member is Gira himself. A number of music's most
underappreciated luminaries are contributors here—Kid Congo Powers, Bliss
Blood (Pain Teens), Lawrence Mullins (Swans)—and the result is a dark,
contemplative creature whose 10 songs take up more than an hour of time
well-spent. Sounding more like a cooperative effort than a
personality-driven band, Angels Of Light contruct Western ragas that in
other hands would serve as backdrops for sentimental sketches of mountains
or rivers. Here, they're lush, slightly countrified, bass-heavy springboards
for quietly violent, overtly poetic meditations on self and other. It's
still heavy-handed stuff; you won't be having "Public Embarrassment Blues"
played at your wedding anytime soon. But it's also some of the most
thoughtful and thought-provoking songwriting around, envisioning new
possibilities for acoustic music, which is often unfairly maligned as
"gentle" and "mellow."