The Angels of Light | Everything is Good Here/Please Come Home | by Matthew D. Proctor

A stunning new height of feverish vision

It is seldom to stumble upon music with vision in the strewn hemispheres of what is considered music today. The Angels of Light have always truly been an exception and do just what their name implies, literally creating music that brings light to the world.Throughout the years Michael Gira has always brought a purity to his music with the dissonant, groundbreaking Swans and other related side projects.

The Angels of Light are a direct break with the brutal, burning soundscapes of the Swans.Gira chose folk orchestrations with hints of fragmented Americana to express delicate beauty with touches of subtle violent misery. Yet, with the Angels of Light’s third studio collection, Gira has reached a stunning new height of feverish vision transcending the world of human existence while still expressing it.This is music that portrays the soul trapped in the mechanics and functions of the body and fallible mind.It is also music that is engulfed by the act of redemption.

Tense and emotionally exhausting, Everything is Good Here/Please Come Home is a new type of Americana.Gira’s vision of existence is bleak, psychologically knifing and mysterious, filled with visions of backwoods hell where moonshiners duel it out within woozy, archetypal dreamscapes of love, bitterness, and betrayal.A claustrophobic production condenses instruments to where they heave and gasp instead of breathing freely.A shimmering beauty flows through the night-and-day song cycle that covers the full range of human emotion.

“Palisades” opens the album with a narrative that hints at someone lost in contemplation in the moaning shadows of suicide. Yet the troubling narrative is enveloped with warm, mysterious notes that hint this is not someone on the verge of suicide, but someone stepping back from the brutal act by realizing how he or she got there.The song is densely filled with banjo rolls, bells and thick harmonizing.

“All Soul’s Rising,” which is the most violent song on the album, is brutal and driving with feverish vocal chants. A blood curdling harmonica solo punctuates the violent pagan passion of the song. It sounds like a western ballad fragmented with Ennio Morricone crashing into it with a wagon being pulled by frenzied, sick nags.

“Kandinski” is a love song that balances the soul of love with the lurking animal still present in man. A beautiful fiddle break intensifies the soft mood. The song is a narrative on devotion to a loved one while still being conscious of the fleshy animal instinct.

“Rose of Los Angeles” is delirious and carnival. The song is a bitter portrayal of a mother who only wants to rid herself of her daughters by marrying them off. She only wishes the worst for them with lines like “So may you marry early, and may your lover die.”

An epic quality swarms through all the songs. Even the sparse fragment “Because She Was,” lasting a mere 40 seconds, still has the quality of the epic.

“What Will Come” which closes the album, is a passionate description of utter isolation and longing. The song ends with bright, desperate prayers for “God save us…from what will come.”

Everything is Good/Please Come Home may be filled with bleakness, yet the music transcends the subject.This is Gira’s whole point. This is not an album about being depressed. It’s an album about being human. This is an album about coming to terms with how unforgiving and brutal existence can be and still finding the essence of beauty. It is a realistic assessment of being screwed up and transcending this awful entrapment to find light in the wobbly world.