Swans will be undertaking their third stint of North American performances in 14 years

By on May 12, 2011

Michael Gira’s re-activated Swans will be undertaking their third
stint of North American performances in 14 years, celebrating the
late 2010 release of My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky,
the first new Swans album since Soundtracks For The Blind (1997). The
touring line-up is: Michael Gira – guitar, voice (original Swans);
Norman Westberg – guitar (original Swans); Christoph Hahn – guitar
(mid period Swans and most Angels); Phil Puleo – drums, percussion,
dulcimer etc 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, etc
etc… (Angels / Shearwater). Opening act on all these dates is Young
God recording artist Wooden Wand who recently released his label
debut Death Seat. I’m hoping you’ll consider advancing this show with
a feature, CD review or advance blurb.
“About reconstituting Swans, founder member Michael Gira says: “There
was a point a few years ago during a particular show when I was on
tour with Angels Of Light, with Akron/Family serving as the backing
band. It was during the song ‘The Provider.’ Seth’s guitar was
sustaining one open chord (very loudly), rising to a peak, then
crashing down again in a rhythm that could have been the equivalent
of a deep and soulful act of copulation. The whole band swayed with
this arc. Really was like riding waves of sound. I thought right
then, “You know, Michael, Swans wasn’t so bad after all…” Ha ha! 
It brought back – in a flood – memories, or maybe not memories, more
a tangible re-emersion in the sensation of Swans music rushing
through my body in waves, lifting me up towards what, I can only
assume, will be my only experience of heaven. It’s difficult – and
probably pointless – to try to describe this experience. It’s
ecstatic, I suppose – a force of simultaneous self negation and
rebirth. So I want more of that, before my body breaks down to such
an extent that it won’t be possible anymore.”
“Naturally, some of the material for this new record will be songs,
centered around the voice and words. Other parts (I’m hoping) will be
reaching for what I’ve described above. One thing I want to point out
right now: THIS IS NOT A REUNION. It’s not some dumb-ass nostalgia
act. It is not repeating the past. After five 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.” Press response to the new music has been extraordinary:

This pioneering no-wave act went into hibernation in 1997, but the hiatus
hasn’t sapped leader Michael Gira’s desire for renewal and redemption
through spectacular destruction: After a nine-minute opener that lays
waste with creepy jet-engine roar, guitar chug, and lyrics about a “zero
man,” Gira delivers “Reeling the Liars In,” a catchy campfire ditty about
doing terrible things to dishonest people. Recognizable shapes of jazz and
post-rock often accompany Gira’s baritone croon, but they’re always
delivered between passages of fastidiously crafted clamor that’s as
cauterizing as ever. Spencer Kornhaber/Spin October

… He has become a folk hero, essentially, to a coalition of musicians from
indie-rock to grindcore to electronic composition, from million-selling
bands to metal and the art-pop underground. Tool, Neurosis, Big Black,
Godspeed You Black Emperor, Godflesh, Xiu Xiu, Battles — bands and
musicians to whom power relationships and confrontation in sound verge on
philosophy or religion. Perhaps the spectrum is so wide because Mr. Gira
isn’t part of any particular musical tradition. Literary, artistic,
maybe…Ben Ratliff/Sunday New York Times 9/5

…Though he forged a reputation for punishing live shows in the 1980s,
blasting audiences at downtown venues such as the Mudd Club, Mr. Gira
gradually steered Swans from the Stygian to the sublime… The songs that he
finally put together for the album are richly imagined and painstakingly
executed, evoking everything from campfire songs to the dissonant ritual
horns of avant-garde Viennese composer Hermann Nitsch. There’s a colorful
dynamic range, darkly poetic lyrics that reach from the gutter to the
stars, and a kaleidoscopic piece called, in true Gira fashion, “You
F—ing People Make Me Sick,” which features guest vocals from singer
Devendra Banhart, whom Mr. Gira signed to his label in 2002… then they
leaned into a swirling, relentless piece of music that started loud and
grew exceptionally louder, an overlay of guitars, bass and percussion
generating a mysterious cloud of overtones, floating above a vertiginous
drone. Mr. Gira, who eschews cochlear protection himself, intoned the
lyrics in a baritone a bit north of Johnny Cash as the drums crashed
concussively… Steve Dollar/Wall Street Journal 10/6

Michael Gira founded the seminal NYC band Swans in 1982. Quickly infamous
for their punishing, brutal and repetitive onslaughts of sound, extreme
volume levels, and the self-abusing, abject shouts and growls of Gira’s
sloganeering vocals, Swans gradually transformed over 15 years,
ultimately venturing into harsh mechanical proto-industrial rock, to
sprawling shifts of texture and perspective (see the bucolic atmospheric
folk idles and martial stomps of their much heralded Children of God
double LP from 1987), to gentle acoustic-based songs, and finally on to
their ultimate statement, Soundtracks For The Blind (1997) which somehow
incorporated all of these elements at once, across well over 2 hours of
music in one album. At this point, Gira called it quits after 15 years of
relentless touring and productivity, and disbanded Swans. Since 1999 Gira
has released his music under the name Angels Of Light. He writes the
songs for Angels Of Light on acoustic guitar and orchestrates them using
a shifting cadre of musicians, employing a wide variety of
instrumentation such as strings, wind, brass, electric guitars,
electronics and choral vocals. When not recording, writing music, or
touring, Gira spends his time producing and releasing music through his
label Young God Records. He’s been responsible for such notable talents
as Devendra Banhart, Lisa Germano, Akron/Family, Larkin Grimm, and James


Swans U.S. tour dates
09/08/2011 Baltimore MD Sonar
09/09/2011 Raleigh NC Fletcher Opera Theater – Hopscotch Festival
09/10/2011 Asheville NC Orange Peel
09/11/2011 Charlotte NC Tremont Music Hall
09/14/2011 West Palm Beach FL Respectable Street
09/15/2011 Tallahassee FL Engine Room
09/16/2011 Atlanta GA Variety Playhouse
09/17/2011 Nashville TN Mercy Lounge
09/20/2011 Minneapolis MN First Avenue
09/21/2011 Milwaukee WI Turner Hall
09/22/2011 Chicago IL Bottom Lounge
09/23/2011 Cleveland OH Beachland Ballroom
09/24/2011 Lexington KY Buster’s Backroom
09/27/2011 Brooklyn NY Music Hall of Williamsburg
09/29/2011 Boston MA Royale Nightclub
10/01/2011 Asbury Park NJ ATP Festival at Convention Centre


Author: DaveHHM

Dave Luttrull: Owner/Editor in Chief of Hellhound Music. Star Wars nerd, Gamer, Destiny homer, blogger, writer and lover of all things music.