Angels of Light | Everything Is Good Here | Review
Wire Magazine/March 2003 | Tom Ridge
it looks forward rather than backThis is a troubled record. It broods, it glowers menacingly. It possesses an intensity which brings Michael Gira around full circle, back to Swans, even as it builds on the foundations of Angels of LightÂ¹s earlier work. ThatÂ¹s to say: it looks forward rather than back. Gira sings in a variety of voices, from a weary, cracked croon to a declamatory shout, from considered musings to rising hysteria. The production has broadened to encompass massive surges in sound, contrasted with intricate, interwoven melodies. It begins with Â³palisadesÂ², a damaged lullaby of a dirge that sounds, paradoxically, merciless and tender. Â³Do you see how they ruined your mind? Do you see how they wasted your like?Â² Gira sings. Â³All SoulsÂ¹ Rising has an enormous, pulsating sound, ruptured by the singerÂ¹s bitter, preaching drawl, as it builds to a frenzy of self-flagellation. Â³KosinskiÂ² casts him as a narrator describing his obsession: Â³When the light shows through your window/I can see you there in the mirror/touching blond hair thatÂ¹s a river of translucent, liquid light.Â² Thematically, it recalls Â³EvangelineÂ², from How I Loved You, with Gira an unseen voyeur describing the object of his desire. Qualified by a sense of pain that love can bring with it, his romanticism is ambiguous. He describes love, in Â³Family GodÂ², as Â³an endless acheÂ², and his weary murmur gives way to something edgier midway through Â³What You WereÂ², suddenly dropping his mask of tenderness. These intricate concerns are projected on a backdrop of ambitious musical arrangements that encompass broader, apocalyptic themes. The somber Â³NationsÂ² is perhaps too obvious lyrically, but an unrelenting air of menace arises from itÂ¹s unstoppable momentum. Closing the album, Â³What Will ComeÂ² is another dirge-like waltz. It sounds fragmented, with GiraÂ¹s voice weakened and wasted even as he calls for some kind of redemption. With buzzsaw guitar noise disturbing his meditation, he calls out, Â³Save us Â from what will comeÅ Â² Yet you donÂ¹t so much hear uncertainty as resignation in his voice, as if Michael Gira already knows.