MICHAEL GIRA | I AM SINGING TO YOU FROM MY ROOM
The Wire | Issue 245, July 2004
A gripping series of songs and wordless song sketchesThe title of this album- which is only available from Giraâ€™s www.younggodrecords.com Website- is descriptive rather than poetic. It was mostly recorded in Giraâ€™s office onto DAT. Itâ€™s almost impossible to listen to this intimate solo acoustic set without picturing Gira in the mindâ€™s eye. It sounds like he looks, from the intimidating deathâ€™s head expression, through to his tastefully austere tailoring and that smoke wreathed voice dried out by endless cigars.
Giraâ€™s lyrics include allusions to pestilence, death, sailor songs, an avenging angel in â€œDestroyerâ€ and the haunting, unfathomable characters of â€œMichaelâ€™s White Handsâ€. Itâ€™s tempting to surmise that he is tapping into folk archetypes. One pictures the sharp suit and haunted face of early 20th century Country blues singer Dock Boggs, to whom Gira bears a passing physical resemblance, and his songs of betrayal and murder. But Gira is undoubtedly of his age, sophisticated and urbane.
I Am Singing To You is a gripping series of songs and wordless song sketches. However, rather than giving any insight into Giraâ€™s work, it demonstrates what has untied all of it since early Swans recordings like â€œRaping A Slaveâ€. Namely, his gravitas. The characteristic relentlessness if his delivery makes a song like â€œBlindâ€ immensely moving, while the acoustic setting of â€œAll Lined Upâ€ â€“ previously recorded by Swans and Gira solo â€“ sounds as powerful in its own way as any full blown group rendering of his songs. As if anticipating this reaction in the listener, Gira then a section of a more monolithic live take on â€œAll Lined Upâ€ by his group Angels Of Light.
From here on in, the tone changes markedly. If much of what preceded it was Gira Boiled down to his essence, in a disarming move , the final clutch of songs were written for Rosalie and Juliette, the â€œdelightful daughtersâ€ of two friends. Of these, â€œCrooked Manâ€ is nursery rythme â€“like and fairytale creepy, while â€œMaen Monster Mikeâ€ has you picturing Gira with plastic fangs, capering around the screaming girls. Itâ€™s difficult not to listen to this without cracking a smile â€“ not a reaction usually associated with Giraâ€™s work.