Angels of Light | New Mother

The Rocket, No. 303 | Dave Clifford

The measure of any influential artist is their ability to summon the soul and emotion of collective history within the expression of one’s own personal experience.

While countless contemporaries wallow in self-misery and miserable poetry. Michael Gira’s ruptured synthesis of blues, folk and rock music provides eviscerating portrayals of human life. His songs could be of his life, or they could be of our own – they’re universal in their message and, therefore, may touch all who listen. While the 17 majestic, narrative songs of the Angels of Light debut, New Mother, on Gira's own Young God Records, unveil a completely new group and aesthetic, Gira's inimitable songwriting bears similarities to the Love of Life and Burning World – era Swans, meshing world folk musics and dissected blues. Not surprisingly, Gira brings along several former Swans' members, -(including multi-instrumentalists Bill Reiflin and Bill Bronson) the extended cast of contributors for the singer's first album and group tour since Swans dissolved over two years ago. "Praise Your Name" opens the album with delicate vibraphone chmies that lead into acoustic guitar strums and trickling piano trills as Gira asks, "Where are you wounded girls with bruised faces and blackened eyes?" The group's ' theme song, "Angels of Light," begins with guitars and vibes locked onto a single chord in the signature arpeggio formula of later-period Swans, while tracks like "Song for My Father" and "Forever Yours" are quiet and forlorn. Gira is vague about the details when he softly sings, "Thank God you never saw the person I've become," his voice - cracking in; acceptance of an undisclosed shame. Fragile, personal, and emotional without ever tugging at our heart strings, Gira utilizes the tension, release, and texturing of instruments to punctuate his lyrics. He invites us into his pain and ecstasy, but only long enough for us to identify with the emotions being conveyed – In do doing, Gira sings for us.