Angels of Light | Everything Is Good Here | Review

Wire Magazine/March 2003 | Tom Ridge

it looks forward rather than back

This 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 Light¹s earlier work. That¹s 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 ³palisades², a damaged lullaby of a dirge that sounds, paradoxically, merciless and tender. ³Do you see how they ruined your mind? Do you see how they wasted your like?² Gira sings. ³All Souls¹ Rising has an enormous, pulsating sound, ruptured by the singer¹s bitter, preaching drawl, as it builds to a frenzy of self-flagellation. ³Kosinski² casts him as a narrator describing his obsession: ³When the light shows through your window/I can see you there in the mirror/touching blond hair that¹s a river of translucent, liquid light.² Thematically, it recalls ³Evangeline², 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 ³Family God², as ³an endless ache², and his weary murmur gives way to something edgier midway through ³What You Were², 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 ³Nations² is perhaps too obvious lyrically, but an unrelenting air of menace arises from it¹s unstoppable momentum. Closing the album, ³What Will Come² is another dirge-like waltz. It sounds fragmented, with Gira¹s voice weakened and wasted even as he calls for some kind of redemption. With buzzsaw guitar noise disturbing his meditation, he calls out, ³Save us ­ from what will comeŠ² Yet you don¹t so much hear uncertainty as resignation in his voice, as if Michael Gira already knows.