Swans | Soundtracks for the Blind | Review

BEELD | Theunis Engelbrecht

Afrikaans language newspaper; Johannesburg, South Africa

This cult group is progressive, alternative

The pop scene is so overloaded that one inevitably misses certain important albums. Thousands of albums are never released in South Africa. That's why the group Swans is relatively unknown down here.

This cult group, which consists of Michael Gira and female vocalist Jarboe, has been making a contribution overseas for the past 15 years. With albums like Holy Money, Children of God, The Burning World, White Light From The Mouth Of Infinity, Body To Body Job To Job, Love Of Life and The Great Annihilator they gained a solid reputation. Their new double album Soundtracks For The Blind is unfortunately their swan song: after 15 years they're calling it a day and this month they are concluding their illustrious career with a US and European tour.

Describing their music must be one of the most difficult challenges for a pop music reviewer, since their work is extremely innovative and experimental, refusing to be categorized. So we'll have a look at the opinions of a few overseas reviewers who are better acquainted with their work: "Mysterious, powerful, intriguing... Swans strive for the thrilling scale of great orchestral work" writes David Thomas in the Denver Post.

"Big sounds and big emotions constantly threaten to swallow you inside their larger space. Frightening, disorienting, inspiring."

"It's the puss and blood of everyday life taken to the furthest extremes artistic license affords. Yet like all extremes, honesty is at its core," writes music mag Sounds.

Music lovers who are thirsting for something new and unique should investigate the work of Swans now that they will no longer be with us. Lovers of commercial sing along rock must stay far away from this: Swans are meant for those who can appreciate progressive, alternative rock.