Angels of Light

EXCLAIM! MAGAZINE | by Roman Sokal

LIVE Review from Healey's, Toronto ON - March 29, 2003

Whether one is aware or not about just who the legendary M. Gira is, the point is that he will make you listen whether you want to or not. Gira, who was the force at the nucleus of the legendary gloomy Turkish-sounding mosaic collective known as the Swans, has long garnered respect by many worldwide. And with his current outfit, Angels of Light, he furthers explorations into the mind's eye tenfold, yet in a much more minimal, stark and almost comfortably damning and undeniable manner. The tapestry behind AOL, which also featured eccentric opener Devendra Banhart on additional guitar, is more acoustic and folk-based, with searing clouds of background drones. As transcending as that is on its own, it is Gira's wary viper/schoolmaster-like voice with intense psychologically universal and realistic storytelling lyrics that forces one to pay attention. And judging by the reactions of the attentive audience, Gira and the Angels of Light succeeded fully in creating a balance of fear and beauty. With each rhythm came a physiological response — one could almost hear the blood coagulate and then jettison through their veins as each haunting song gave both strain and wonderful release to their systems. Those lucky enough to be at the show, which was definitely one of the most important to hit Toronto in quite a while, will agree that drama and seriousness certainly has its place in music, and is much needed. Life is a beautiful world of shit, so why not make the best of it?