The Beggar and Live Shows Press Round Up


Friday night at St. George’s Church proved to be a momentous evening of musical ascendancy courtesy of underground music’s favourite experimental rock titans. Finally catching Swans live after all this time of being a fan amplified my respect and appreciation of them for creating such monumental and groundbreaking music, even after 40 years in tenure. Swans are no longer dead.

Brighton and Hove News - Christian le Surf

“The current iteration of Swans is something of a slow smolder. The music on The Beggar runs warm and temperate in the mode of psych-folk pioneers like Fairport Convention and the Pentangle with occasional storm clouds or short bursts of flames on the periphery. Gira and his collaborators on this album, which include the brilliant Ben Frost and bassist Dana Schechter, ride grooves and moods to their absolute endpoints.”

Paste Magazine - Robert Ham

“These new songs are softer, slower and more celestial, occupying the holes in space and time that were torn open by their predecessors. They bear up listeners on swirling clouds of steel guitars, massed voices and tense, withholding rhythms, only to deposit them before Gira’s looming voice.”

Magnet Magazine - Bill Meyer

“Like Sufi trance music, say, or Penderecki, the sound scrambles your sense of clock time, building and prolonging an almost unbearable tension, the expectation that a secret is about to be disclosed, that another dimension in time is close at hand, that the band’s labor will eventually divert the timestream’s flow from the horizontal to the vertical axis. Swans are one of the best live bands going.”

Dangerous Minds interview - Oliver Hall

“[T]he entire audience was transfixed for duration of the evening. I watched from my balcony seat as the crowd, which ranged in age from college students to senior peeps, swayed and shook in their own, unique, angular movements which could only be described as a rather twisted, interpretive dance.”

Bust Live magazine - Michael Levine



“A 120-minute purge of material Michael Gira penned while the pandemic kept him from his Berlin-based band, Swans' sixteenth is an unsurprisingly grueling experience, but paints the darkness of Gira's soul in variegated shades of black. There 's plenty of their trademark brutalism - the chilling crawl of Paradise Is Mine, with Gira pondering "Am I ready to die?", and the squalling jazz-rock turmoil of The Memorious are bleakly brilliant. But The Beggar al so finds space for macabre, Doors-esque carnival music (Los Angeles: City Of Death), American gothic folk waltzes (Ebbing) and the remarkable No More Of This, a magnificent, slow-burning lullaby in a Spiritualized vein that sweetens Gira's world-weariness with backing vocals and wall-of-sound production. Meanwhile, the purgatorial slog of The Beggar Lover - 44 minutes of scourging song broken up by ambient drone, terrifying din and choral interludes - is both uncompromising and brilliant.”

MOJO, ⅘ - Stevie Check

The Beggar builds on the sound of leaving meaning., though Gira is clearly interested in pushing the band into weirder territory again… The Beggar is a riskier yet more successful effort that feels like a step in a more fulfilling direction.”

All Music - Paul Simpson

The Beggar is more dense modernist text to be pored over and deciphered than escapist beach read… While Gira’s lyrics are as apocalyptic, cryptic and uncomfortable as they’ve ever been, The Beggar is Swans at their loveliest, sounding earthy and ethereal rather than crushingly oppressive, as they usually do. It takes the sublime Gothic drone rock of Swans 1.0 — especially the gorgeous, ambitious noise symphony of Soundtracks for the Blind and culminating with the trance-inducing post-rock minimalism of the much-beloved To Be Kind and The Glowing Man — and incorporates some of the arty avant-garde experimental folk moves of Gira’s post-Swans work with Angels of Light in the process. It sounds half-a-lightyear away from their crushing industrial metal roots; more Arvo Pärt than Alien Art Farm. 

Spectrum Culture - J. Simpson 

“Searching for purgation through volume or its afterimage, The Beggar is peak twenty-first century Swans.”

Big Take Over - Michael Toland

“[T]heir 16th album shows that the old intensity hasn’t deserted them, it just comes in different forms, as suggested by opener The Parasite, which builds from a gentle acoustic guitar to a cacophony of quiet noise. Written in what Gira calls the “strange disorientation” of lockdown, the prevailing atmosphere on The Beggar is one of unsettling, claustrophobic unease, as the drawling 69-year-old contemplates life and mortality.”

The Guardian, ⅘ - Dave Simpson

“Brooding, menacing, decidedly unsettling, The Beggar is a masterclass of both songwriting and arranging. We struggle to think of a release that allows us such an insight into existential concerns of those responsible. Tracks like ‘Michael Is Done’ directly tackle the death sentence under which we’re all born, but burst into this emotional overture, as if reminding us to celebrate and take hold of those we love, including ourselves, while the opportunity remains. Just one example of an omnipresent poignancy, while overall this is a haunting experience it is nonetheless scored with declarations of what it is to be alive contemplating what might form next.”

Juno, MH

“The Beggar, their 16th studio album, makes good use of the quietly ardent tone, and whilst listening is intentionally oppressive, it’s like the insidious continual whisper of conscience rather than the brimstone sermon, and even when songs reach a clangorous attack they tend to build frog-boilingly slowly from hushed beginnings.”

Music Ohm - David Murphy

“…delivers a ritualistic euphoria”

Uncut 8/10

“a gargantuan demonstration of just how far Swans have come and how huge they’ve become”

Classic Rock 8/10

“The Beggar feels like a band once again developing a new identity, one that’s still coalescing into its full shape.”

The Skinny