Swans | Soundtracks for the Blind | Review

Focus 15 | JoAnn Greene

Swans should've called this Soundtracks For The Damned

After fifteen years, The Swans are apparently calling it quits, claiming that Soundtracks for the Blind will be their final studio album. However, a tour is planned for the new year; thus, we can expect a live record to follow sometime after. But this double album, clocking in at over 140 minutes, will truly be the band's epitaph. The evocative title doesn't begin to conjure up the correct images for this grand finale at all. More appropriately, The Swans should've called this Soundtracks For The Damned. It's too big to be processed in one sitting, nor two, nor even three—the music is so dense, the songs so varied, the moods so intense, that it'll be well into 1997 before the listener can truly come to grips with this set completely. Being it's The Swans, one's immediately drawn into a melancholy world, shrouded in shadows and awash in contradictory emotions. The music swings between brilliance and hell; there'll be times you'll want to smash the records into a million pieces, other times you'll marvel at the duo's genius. The bulk of the album retains The Swan's darkwaveesque vision of moody pieces with industrial epic overtones. It's when they move into electronic experimentation that you'll want to scream for relief, while hanging on to every infuriating note. Its disconcerting strangeness, its seemingly formless pointlessness, the sounds that eventually have the effect of nails on a chalkboard, the bizarre vocal samples; all collide in songs that are at once superb, yet almost unbearable. In many ways, it's useless even attempting to review this album. Regardless of whatever faults one finds within, it's still necessity to have it, hear it, and lose oneself in it. Damned or not, blind or all seeing, revel in these soundtracks.