M. Gira | Drainland | Review

The Lizard | Jamie T. Conway

heavier than ever

And so you grow old.

Naiveté is no longer your ally; forced to acknowledge the anguish and torment you so selfishly and effortlessly caused, you suffer similar betrayals without complaint, saddened not by your friends behavior but because you know their transgression was as inevitable as your own. You watch—sometimes with compassion, sometimes with guilty indifference—as tragedy comes crashing into their lives, battering them into hopeless submission. Start staring sadly at coffee stained photographs, indulging in the sappy sentimentality you despised in your youth. Then come the 2 a.m. phone calls and ward visits, the labored conversations with unrecognizable ricti, the growing realization you will one day be another crumbling, forgotten headstone in an overcrowded cemetery. And as you listen solemnly to another premature eulogy, you wish you could believe in the circuitous machinations of some idiot God as you search for a reason, a purpose, meaning, find... nothing. Eventually, all you want is to become numb, dull yourself to the pain.

It's said that Michael Gira's music is no longer "heavy," as unthreatening as the bunnies adorning the cover of the later Swans albums. Wrong: it's heavier than ever, buckling under the unbearable weight of accumulated regret, beautiful but bloodshot, cheerless as a medieval torture chamber.

On Drainland—a predominantly acoustic album, but overlaid with screeching tape loops and an industrial rhythm section—Gira's seeking to lighten his load, become a pitiless brute once more ("But I was younger then, strong, clear minded and blind"), and discovering not only that it brings sorrows of its own, but that you can never successfully flee from anything, because you're saddled with the knowledge that you're running. And, at last, he reaches some kind of peace with himself:

"And don't say a prayer for anyone/ It won't do any good."