Swans - My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky
I really feel old when bands from the 90s reunite, but, HAHAHA, I cheat death this time: the eternal, raw holiness of Swans is still intact and life-giving after a thirteen year hiatus. “My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky” doesn’t skip a beat from late-period Swans, though some of the orchestration and introspection of Michael Gira’s decade long Angels of Light project have been blended into that signature greasy, pummeling minimalism. Gira is pretty adamant, too, that this is not a reunion but a move forward in his music, with a reconstituted Swans the perfect vehicle for his present ideas. Works for me.
“Reeling the Liars In” is a perfect example of his argument. An Acoustic tune with an almost sea-shanty melody, it explores betrayal and sex at the mythical level that were the real meat of Gira’s Swans writing, with an added weariness similar to Angels of Light; the lush dirge of “Little Mouth” burns with restrained anger and wisdom, which may be a good way to describe this set in general. The acapella coda to “Mouth” is one of the most haunting and creepy moments of Gira’s career, and that is no mean feat.
Those looking to be scraped by sound are also going to be pleased. “My Birth,” “Eden Prison” and “No Words/No Thoughts” are equal to “Cop” era claustrophobic mayhem. Special shout also to You Fucking People Make Me Sick,” which is not only a title Swans were born to coin, but is a mini-gothic masterpiece.
Gira is joined on “My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky” by original Swans member Norman Westberg on guitar, Christoph Hahn and a couple of Angels of Light members. This is not the sweaty, promising to be traumatizing Swans, but, as Gira has stated, an evolution of his music with Swans as his support. While his obsessions are still unresolved, the nuance he gives to their contemplation is still riveting, and still growing.
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