Swans are arguably the kings of experimental music. Whether it be them rising to the top of the grim no wave scene in the early 80's, the as-weird-as-it-gets headf*ck of 'Soundtracks For The Blind' or their recent efforts since reuniting in 2010, Swans have always been in a field of one when it comes to the strange and they only seem to get better as time goes on. With 2014's 'To Be Kind' and last year's 'The Glowing Man', Swans seem to be at their peak having managed to craft these super long, and drawn out records, but being able to keep you firmly on course with them for the journey they take you on, thanks to tons of groove and hypnotic charm. They hit Leeds tonight for a show that nothing can prepare you for.
Before Swans melt you though, Little Annie delivers an incredibly moving, tender set. Her songs are delicate and soulful and her voice is so warm and charming, that it feels like a blanket comforting you. If you like your music gentle, check this lady out.
For the first several minutes, it feels like they're building something, with creaking, ringing out feedback from minimal playing of their instruments. Their structure develops into a monolith, that won't be taken down by anything for the next two and a half hours Swans play. There's a lot to Swans' sound that makes them impenetrable and the first and most important aspect is how sinfully loud Swans play. Seriously, even when it comes to the light, gentle parts of their songs, it'll leave your body shaking and your ears clinging for dear life, probably because of the several amps Swans have with them. Naturally when Swans do come at you in full force, with barrages of sledgehammer like guitar stabs, it leaves you feeling fragile.
Continue reading: Swans - Leeds Stylus 20th of May 2017 Live Review
Where to begin when talking about Swans? This is the band with arguably the richest history in experimental music. For starters there's their significance to ugly no-wave and noise rock in the eighties, with their first run of albums, then their evolution into more ethereal music which led up to their tenth and final album before initially breaking up, 1996's 'Soundtracks For The Blind' an album about two and a half hours long which included soaring post-rock, animalistic noisy numbers as well as twisted exercises in the sinister thanks to an eerie use of sampling and the record is widely considered a masterpiece in the strange.
However, when Swans got back together in 2010 it was more than just a reunion, it was a rebirth. A new era for the band which has seen them put out some of the strongest material of their legacy, most notably 2014's 'To Be Kind' a two-hour long epic which balanced their freakiness with solid, captivating groove and arguably dethroned 'Soundtracks For The Blind as Swans' magnum opus. They're back with newest release 'The Glowing Man' which sees Swans continue to be mesmerising with their work.
This album kicks off with the haunting 'Cloud of Forgetting', with each instrument feeling like a looming spirit, whether that be the minimal guitars, the exhausted drums, Michael Gira's drawn out, morose voice or the bendy keyboard. Each element drags itself along for ten minutes before coming back to the world of the living with everything becoming rock solid in the form of the guitars and other instrumentation stomping in unison.
Continue reading: Swans - The Glowing Man Album Review
The two acts are the latest announcements for Poland's summer festival.
The newest additions to Open'er Festival 2015 arrive in the form of Flume and Tom Odell, who are joining an already stellar line-up including Alt-J and Kasabian for some fantastic Polish fun this summer. Further additions are yet to be announced.
Australian electronic musician Flume and one of the UK's favourite singer-songwriters Tom Odell are the latest additions to the fourteenth Open'er Festival, held at Gdynia-Kosakowo Airport in Gdynia, Poland from July 1st - 4th 2015. They'll be playing alongside the likes of Main Stage acts Alt-J and Kasabian, Tent Stage musicians Jose Gonzalez and St. Vincent and Alter Stage visitors Swans.
Here's what to expect from Chicago's Pitchfork Music Festival this weekend (19th - 21st July 2013).
Every summer this globally loved festival presents some 40 plus artists from all parts of the music spectrum, including both classic chart-toppers and new emerging talent, to 50,000 indie fans. They have been praised over their seven year existence for their cheap ticket prices and friendly atmosphere and that's not about to go any time soon. Apart from great live music on show for three days, there's some of the best indie vinyls for sale at the CHIRP Record Fair, some excellent posters and art-pieces about, as well as a craft fair and an array of musical books and magazines. It's not just for Stateside music fans though, the festival hits Europe for Pitchfork Music Festival Paris on October 31st, November 1st and November 2nd.
Continue reading: Union Park Prepares For Its Seventh Annual Pitchfork Music Festival
Coldplay live CD/DVD Cover
Albums of Note... Coldplay’s Live 2012 album shows a band far more at ease with themselves than their previous live release, from 2003. The Live 2012 package includes both blu-ray and CD. The footage is punctuated by behind-the-scenes interludes and these excerpts showcase each band member’s enthusiasm for their live shows as well as revealing how the material from Mylo Xyloto evolved over time and culminated with them band playing to a vast stadium audiences across the globe. “Live 2012 includes some nice musical moments... the low-key piano intro to 'Yellow', a guest appearance from Rihanna during 'Princess Of China', and the stripped back intimacy of 'Us Against The World'. All of the other elements of big choruses and sing-along's spanning the entire Coldplay back catalogue are present and correct… and Chris Martin's voice seems to have found a renewed strength to cope with the massive venues the band now fills.”
The story of Swans, or more succinctly Michael Gira, has been told a thousand times over. His troubled childhood and the trials and tribulations of his thirty years as the dictator of the loudest band on earth does make for a fascinating article, and yet for an artist so obsessed with pushing himself forward it feels almost an insult to dwell so constantly on the past. Even before the release of this year's epic The Seer, an album Michael describes as "The culmination of every previous Swans album, as well as any other music I've made", their mammoth live set included material that outdated it, something rather curious in consideration of such a bold statement. In reference to the question of why he excludes songs from such a definitive work and substitutes them for tracks as yet unreleased he explains;
"...to feel alive. I don't think anyone in the band wants to be playing old songs and pleasing an audience by meeting their expectations. We want it to be, y'know, a vital and uncomfortable place, a new terrain, and hopefully something exciting will happen. We never try to replicate what's on the record."
For those that have seen Swans live this is something that doesn't need saying. The total set-time usually approaches or even passes 180 minutes, and yet barely a handful of tracks are played. He comments;
Continue reading: Swans - Interview
Some artists and works have a power to eclipse anything that stands close. A popular website (scaleofuniverse.com) shows the scale of a quark, zooming out to a germ, to a man, to a planet and, finally, to the largest known galaxy in the universe. Keep scrolling for hours past its defined outer-limit and there lies Swans. Thirty years on from the birth of Michael Gira's confrontational, challenging, bewildering project, comes The Seer; a two-hour masterpiece that Gira himself claims to be the summation and culmination of the last three decades. A man prone to profound statements, this may yet prove to be merely a sound bite, particularly when noting the fact that the band are showcasing newer material live already, but The Seer is certainly the most accomplished work of his life.
Continue reading: Swans, The Seer Album Review