After years of pursuing Angels of Light and recording and producing a diverse roster of artists for his Young God label, Michael Gira has decided to reconvene his legendary group Swans. As he says: “THIS IS NOT A REUNION. It’s not some dumb-ass nostalgia act. It is not repeating the past. After 5 Angels Of Light albums, I needed a way to move FORWARD, in a new direction, and it just so happens that revivifying the idea of Swans is allowing me to do that. “
The core group constituting Swans for this phase is Michael Gira / guitar / voice / mendicant friar act (original swans); Norman Westberg – guitar (original swans); Christoph Hahn – guitar (mid period swans and most angels); Phil Puleo – drums, percussion, dulcimer etc (final swans tour and most angels); Chris Pravdica – bass and gadgets (flux information sciences / services/ gunga din); Thor Harris - drums, percussion, vibes, dulcimer, curios, keys (angels, now also with Shearwater)…
This highly anticipated album is as powerful and diverse as anything Gira’s done, in Swans or otherwise. It opens with the epic, soul-crushing (bone crushing?) No Words / No Thoughts, but quickly veers to more pastoral terrain, then on to ever-ascending mono-tonal grooves, a filmic-folk idyll featuring Devendra Banhart on lead vocal that abruptly shifts to cataclysm, then on to more airplane-taking-off ascensions, art songs, and more lethal sonic pummeling. In short, this is the new SWANS album, a significant advance from where Swans left off and as challenging and emotionally demanding as ever.
Increasing frustrated by the (self imposed) constraints he’d set for himself in Angels of Light, Gira decided that the direction he wanted his music to take would be more appropriate under the moniker of the group he started in 1982 and retired in 1997. Though the new album retains an attention to detail in orchestration, and an underlying sense of melody on many of the songs, there’s a deliberate shift towards sonic intensity, relentless, maniacal rhythms and alternately abrasive and soaring waves of electric guitar, qualities those familiar with the always-shifting sonic approach of Swans over the (now first) 15 years of its’ existence will recognize. This record immediately feels like Swans but is also obviously unique and moving into new territory. (younggodrecords. com)
"A majestic return and, let us hope, a harbinger of more to come." (bbc. co. uk)
"This is it. This is the ultimate M. Gira record.... I would say this is the best Gira record for beginners, but I can also picture it being exhausting. At times, things get so intense, it’s hard not to laugh....Band reunions never make good on their promises, but this record certainly does." (dustedmagazine. com)