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  • Swans | Swans Related Projects | Review

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    Roadkilltwo extraordinary albumsM. Gira - Drainland Jarboe - Sacrificial Cake Let's get one thing straight. These LPs will not be bad. It is impossible for Gira to do anything remotely resembling a failure (apart from his immense song of the same name!). His solo offering should easily be a Swans LP on its own. The spacious almost choral backing is there in force, and the deep, deep vocals brood over the top. Some of the tracks seem to harken back to the more industrial era of Swans, particularly track 3, "I see them all lined up," but this adds variety to what is a huge album. Jarboe's LP is probably more pretty, but weirder. To hear her enchanting voice whisper about gribbly goblins and mushroom men as you fall asleep at night is nothing short of begging for a night of nightmare lunacy. She has moments of pure beauty, "My Buried Child" and pure horror, "The Body Lover." These contrasting emotions all add up in both cases to two extraordinary albums each of matching brilliance. Worth stealing from a friend for....

  • Swans / M. Gira | The Great Annihilator / Drainland | Review

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    Rolling StoneGreat Annihilator ***, Drainland ***A decade ago SWANS were a seminal noise band, a contemporary influence on Sonic Youth and a predecessor to Nine Inch Nails. But Swans' aggressively ugly music—loud, slow and monotonously grinding—combined with singer M. Gira's queasy lyric stew of sadistic sex and violence guaranteed a limited audience. Since then they've somehow perservered largely unheard, on the fringe's fringe. Even more surprising given their monotonic original sound they've evolved. The current Swans consist of Gira on vocals, guitar and miscellaneous sounds, and a woman named Jarboe on vocals and keyboards plus whoever they can get to fill out the rhythm section. The music has opened up a great deal. New Age electronic pastels are as likely to be part of the mix as the band's signature metallic harshness. What have remained are Gira's transgressive lyrics and brutal attitude. Annihilator is rife with tales of mutilating murders either in love with their victims or the power of their own cruelty. Gira structures his songs like repetitive loops—a few bars and you've usually heard the whole scheme—and this lack of resolution, of catharsis, contributes to the overall ominous feel. Add to this Gira's deep, weary drawl—monsters, while never......

  • M. Gira | Drainland | Review

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    Metroland, Albany NY | J. Eric SmithDrainland's oftentimes disturbing imagery makes it a record to avoid like buboes for the faint of constitution.While quasi-religious gumpisms and random acts emerge as the preferred salves for the collective cultural conscience during our Fluffy Spirituality Phase, Michael Gira stands before the horrifically confrontational Swans screaming in confusion over the painful messiness involved with being animated (but transcendence seeking) meat. His limping quest to reconcile (and not just salve) the chafe of selfish bodily reality against social convention and spiritual aspiration is documented on records with Circus Mort, Swans, Skin (Gira), and The World of Skin, any of which can serve as an effective antidote to the unpleasant numbing and tingling effects caused by overuse of Fluffy Spirituality Salve. Drainland, featuring fellow Swans Jarboe and Bill Rieflin, provides the newest chapter in Gira's progress as reluctant pilgrim. The Branca-meets-Wagner triple guitar attack of Swans' recent The Great Annihilator has been replaced with lean tape-loop/sample driven grooves wrapped in organ washes and resonant twelve-string drones. Gira's voice remains a natural wonder—a sepulchral bass that is both meditative and mournful, and is perfectly suited to songs with titles like "Why I Ate My Wife," "I See......

  • Swans | Swans Related Projects | Review

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    SF Weekly ReviewThe kind of disturbing intensity expected from a "Swans Related Project."Swans Related Project: Jarboe Sacrificial Cake (Alternative Tentacles) Swans Related Project: M. Gira Drainland (Alternative Tentacles) After nearly a decade and a half of turning inner turmoil into cathartic wastelands of tortured sound, Swans gurus Michael Gira and Jarboe have embarked on two new solo ventures: Sacrificial Cake marks Jarboe's third outing as a lone leader; Drainland is M. Gira's debut. Both discs fuse sex, violence, and considerable nihilism with the kind of disturbing intensity expected from a "Swans Related Project." Amid trenchant layers of shimmering guitar and swampy synthetics, Gira explores the self-delusion of alcoholic detachment. Drainland kicks off with "You see through me," a verite-sounding taped encounter in which Jarboe confronts Gira with her anxiety about his "drinking too much." Gira argues that it's "your problem, not mine." and that she must now "support" his alcoholism: "Shut your mouth and get some money." The release closes with "Blind," Gira's acknowledgement of his "self-deception" and a plea for pity "Because when we're drinking/ We can never be filled." He intones, "When I look in the mirror/ I feel dead/ I feel cold / I am blind." Bloody......

  • Swans | Swans Related Projects | Review

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    Ohio Music Press | Caldwell Nobletwo different albums that reflect each of their personalitiesTo simply describe the recent incarnation of Swans as a bit dark and moody is like saying Quentin Tarantino makes films that are mildly aggressive. For the most part, M. Gira is Swans. Since 1982, Gira's reign has spawned a body of work spanning an array of styles: punk, goth, noise and dance. Over the years, he has also been joined by a rogues gallery of musicians including Jim Thirwell (Foetus), Anton Fier (Golden Palominos) and members of Prong. His main collaborator for the past few Swans albums is singer, lyricist, and queen of assorted noises, Jarboe. Together, she and Gira have produced some of the best and most brooding titles in the Swans' catalog: White Light From The Mouth Of Infinity, The World of Skin, Love of Life, and The Great Annihilator. On individual releases titled Swans Related Project, Jarboe and M. Gira present two different albums that reflect each of their personalities. Even though they swap guest appearances, these two albums possess distinct identities. M. Gira's Drainland is a musical walk through a New Orleans cemetery on a rainy All Saint's Eve. As the sun......

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