Monday, March 24, 2014

New Swans Track - A Little God in My Hands

I'll admit, until 2012's The Seer I never had as strong an affection for a Swans record. Granted, there weren't a lot of their albums I knew, primarily because, and this may sound a little goofy, but at some point ten years ago or so I purchased the reissue of Cop/Young God/Greed/Holy Money and honestly, it scares me to this day. There is a malevolence that hangs over that record that really gets under my skin. I liken it to watching Silence of the Lambs - Lambs is an amazing piece of cinema that I love just for its craft, but the actual tone of the film - while perfect for the story - puts me in touch with one of the darker, more perverse nooks of the human psyche and I simply cannot go there very often. The same is true of SE7EN, which I love even more for its craft but which tends to absolutely demolish me, each one of my meager three viewings of that particular film sending me on a spiral of paranoid, hate and frustration that takes a few days to recover from. Now, the fact that filmmakers could do that to me with images and sound on celluloid either means I take movies waaaay too seriously or that they are extremely powerful examples of the art; I tend to interpret this as the latter but also know in my heart that it is actually more of a combination of both. The same is true of that early Swans stuff. I sought it out because I had read what an influence they were on Justin K. Broadrick and upon initial listening attempts to Cop/Young God/Greed/Holy Money I saw the influence, but I also caught a glimpse of a hell that seared my psyche and thus have only sporadically gone back to make new attempts at desensitizing myself enough to fully embrace those records.

And then there's the question if I should try to desensitize myself, but I'll leave that to a later day.

All that said Michael Gira and contributors have definitely refined the band with age. Despite my emotional handicap to the old music I've kept up on Swans as a cultural cornerstone and have ear marked the many iterations the group has gone through over the years. The Seer was a record that didn't make my best of list in 2012 because I didn't hear it until the very first days of 2013 and upon hearing it immediately thought that it would probably have ranked in at #2 on that just-published list at the time. The Seer is... all encompassing; a micro-verse in a record's form and something of a journey that I like taking on a somewhat regular basis. These are no longer the bowels of hell Swans take me to, merely some of the more... colorful suburbs of those fantastic realms.

According to the mighty Brooklyn Vegan Swans newest record, To Be Kind, is out on May 13th via Young God. I'll definitely not be waiting until January, 2015 to purchase it.

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