Swans | Swans Related Projects | Review

Ohio Music Press | Caldwell Noble

two different albums that reflect each of their personalities

To simply describe the recent incarnation of Swans as a bit dark and moody is like saying Quentin Tarantino makes films that are mildly aggressive.

For the most part, M. Gira is Swans. Since 1982, Gira's reign has spawned a body of work spanning an array of styles: punk, goth, noise and dance. Over the years, he has also been joined by a rogues gallery of musicians including Jim Thirwell (Foetus), Anton Fier (Golden Palominos) and members of Prong. His main collaborator for the past few Swans albums is singer, lyricist, and queen of assorted noises, Jarboe. Together, she and Gira have produced some of the best and most brooding titles in the Swans' catalog: White Light From The Mouth Of Infinity, The World of Skin, Love of Life, and The Great Annihilator.

On individual releases titled Swans Related Project, Jarboe and M. Gira present two different albums that reflect each of their personalities. Even though they swap guest appearances, these two albums possess distinct identities.

M. Gira's Drainland is a musical walk through a New Orleans cemetery on a rainy All Saint's Eve. As the sun sets, the lost souls, who were the victims of this life, reach up from their burial places and pull the listener, by the ankles, down into a grave which opens up into the bowels of hell. Once in the fiery pit, murderous demons claw at your spirit in hopes of ripping a from your body. To put a quite bluntly, M. Gira could give Clive Barker a few restless nights. Even in the most uplifting of Gira's songs, "Blind," the scent of death still lingers in the air.

Jarboe's Sacrificial Cake also sends you falling into the afterlife, but this time you never land. Caught between heaven and hell, the different sides of Jarboe tug at your soul. Choirs of angels sent from above guide you to the light on "Lavender Girl," "Not Logical" and "Spiral Staircase." Before you can reach tranquility, demons poke pitchforks at you to see if you flinch . With "My Buried Child," you get a glimpse of hell, and by the time you reach "Yum Yab" and "Surgical Savior," you're tasting the sweat dripping off of Satan's tongue. But unlike Gira, Jarboe never decides what to do with your soul—on "Troll," Jarboe sings, "I am the light, I am the dark."

On the other hand, Gira knows exactly what to do with the soul: burn, baby, burn.