Article written by Matt H -
a hole in the universe
My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky Young God
Article written by Matt H - Sep 16, 2010
Swans - American Rope Trick "Swans Are Not Dead" came the announcement a few months back to no little excitement round these parts. Judging by the photos in the album "Swans are Undead" might have been nearer the mark. Michael Gira is at pains to point out that this isn't a reunion, it's him moving forward again. Quite who he thought might accuse him of reviving one of the most aggressively uncommercial bands of all time for anything other than artistic purposes isn't clear. But who cares? This is a great record.
It establishes its distance from Gira's nu-folk friendly Angels of Light project from the off. No Words/No Thoughts' opening bells dissolve into trademark punishing thunderous rhythms squirming guitar and bandsaw sounds before (un)settling into a slinking, rhythmic intonation of a song. It's something of a surprise then when Reeling the Liars In follows it with a swaying Americana drinking song - albeit one with a gentle, righteous brutality. And so the new Swans do in fact draw from Angels of Light, but in their own mould (though with Jarboe's ethereal presence missing, but not necessarily missed). Jim stomps forward as relentlessly as it sways drunkenly. My Birth is more classic punishing Swans, albeit with the Palace Brothers seemingly trapped somewhere in its relentless washing machine rhythms.
As if to truly ram home how excellently this stomps all over all the la-di-da stuff that rules the Americana scene, Swans employ the prince of folky twee, Devandra Banhart to sing a little nose harp ditty with Gira's 3 year old daughter (and no, to be honest, not even Gira can really get away with that, but it's a short enough contribution not to matter) before just detonating it in a mass of sound. Oh and it's called You Fucking People Make Me Sick. Ah yes, Swans are definitely back.
There's still time for Inside Madeline to drone and reel dizzily before settling briefly into a Laneganesque Balkan bar room croon; Eden Prison to sound like the Bad Seeds being slowly beaten up in a bazaar and to round off relatively gently with Little Mouth's stately, partly a capella, spiritual.
You know all those Americana bands you've tried listening to over the last couple of years, finding bits and pieces of interest, but little that lasts? You were right. Things did used to be better, and can be again. Cart 'em all off to the charity shop and come back with this.