OTHER MUSIC'S BEST OF 2012: NEW RELEASES & REISSUES
In a word: WOW. The twelfth studio album by Swans comes forth as a stunning, brutal epic that combines elements of all the band's work from before, but pushes their sound forward into a product that could only have taken thirty years of living to the extreme to craft. The pummeling rhythmic hypnotism, complex instrumental interplay, and ragged yet commanding vocals that are Swans' trademarks are all here, all clothed in stunning arrangements (including strings, woodwinds, accordion and horns) that blanket these songs in black drones, spaghetti western ragas, and dirty, lumbering grooves. Comprised of two CDs clocking in at two hours of listening, it's not an album that you can casually eavesdrop upon. That's not to say it's impenetrable, though; on the contrary, these are some of Michael Gira's most uplifting songs, playing like a rallying call to arms for those who want to listen, and demanding the attention and respect of those who might attempt to play deaf toward it.