Everything is Good Here/Please Come Home
Fake Jazz Magazine | by david christensen
Remarkable, striking, frightening, and beautifulThis is the first Angels of Light album I have heard, so I have no context in which to place it in terms of releases under that moniker. However, because Angels of Light is essentially Michael Gira, formerly of the Swans, I will proceed from that context. I have never liked the Swans. When they were heavy, they were unbelievably heavy. But there was no fun, no swing, no wildness, no abandon. It was all calculated portentousness and ART. In short, boring, lifeless and antithetical to rock and roll. When they stopped being heavy, that just left the other.
Angels of Light is far beyond the Swans in terms of quality. A number of the songs are remarkable, striking, frightening, and beautiful. "All Souls' Rising" charges forward along a mean riff, propelled by a bizarrely martial beat, chanting, and dissonant organs. Immediately following is "Kosinski," with its delicate melody, sweet arpeggios, and layers of warm ambiance. At the other end of the spectrum is "Rose of Los Angeles," where multiple tracks of intense vocals and crazy flutes create a rising spiral of madness. At the apex is "Sunset Park," which layers repetitive guitars upon repetitive vocals upon a thick base of sound which wraps itself around your head like warm paper mache, and is likewise suffocating.
As strong as these songs are, and as the album as a whole is, it suffers from a overbearing tone of self-importance. Though the songs are well crafted and expertly executed, they are ultimately inanimate models, rather than living creatures. Every necessary mechanical part has been put into the music, but there is no heart-engine to drive it.