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Old 05.23.2014, 02:42 AM   #141
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guest makes a great point about the 90's era.

as far as im concerned, swans were perhaps the ONLY fucking band to do what i have wanted and expected from the undead corpse that is/was alt/extreme/underground music - which is to unflinchingly document the horror, decay and misery of contemporary life, the amorality and destruction, and to do so from a perspective that doesn't try to ignore it but rather allows us to live through it without having to blind ourselves to it to survive.

and i just dont get why swans are the only band i can think of that did that. it's really a horrible testament to the failures of supposedly alternative culture, when only one person can make music like this. there was nothing nietzschean about it unlike almost all other bands that make dark music. gira was never trying to raise some sort of defiant fist as if to say "look at me surviving and making my own way amidst all this shit! i'm so disgusted so im a hero!".

that era of swans was one lament for the sadness of humanity. a song about a man literally so lonely and fucked up he kills human beings just to be in the company of their dead corpses, while he watches war and death on the tv.

and this murderer asks the corpse of the person he's just killed if he should feel sympathy for the real people who lie dead behind these images of military dominance, then he asks him if he can kiss him.

this is the point where love is exposed as a sick pathology that offers no respite from the horror of the world, and in fact only produces it. and in listening we get to experience a kind of cold release from the despair of this, because the whole sick scene is kind of crooned so that its romanticism and its longing and its darkness all merge together.

the male prostitutes with their desperate need for money and love are killed by someone so utterly twisted by the world he can only come close to tender moments of human connection after he's murdered them.

and then gira brings us out of this specific scene into the perspective of the world itself, "hunger in the desert, missiles in the sky" - the same nexus of need and desperation entangled with violence and power, only now you're no longer fooled that either of these two opposites can exist without the other.

that's when you start to see the horrible truth, which is how even innocence and beauty feed off the most horrendous of realities, of how there's no respite from either.

this is a song in which our entire social pretense is humiliated by a serial killer who is depicted as the only person having any real compassion! our safe position behind the screens is depicted as more dehumanized and disconnected than someone who isn't afraid to confront and even, in a totally fucking obscene way, LOVE the dead bodies which we'd all rather not confront, but which we're all in a way responsible for killing.

this is OUR sociopathy and misery rendered by a true artist and sold back to us. WE live in these societies that wage brutal death from the skies while we sit behind screens as isolated, infantilized units in love with our own disgusting visions of benevolence and happiness. and maybe gira is the guy whose saying - don't you realize how your rage at the dissonance of having the latter image awkwardly confronted with the former is less noble than you think?

i mean, how many other artists can make a serial killer seem like a more loving and compassionate figure than anyone else in the world?

maybe only gira was able to get to this moment where our self revulsion doesn't either turn into frenzied rage at EVERYTHING or morose self pity.

someone operating around the same time doing something similar, and from the same industrial roots, was trent reznor. but reznor stops short of gira and just screams in disgust, or gets sad. what gira is doing is a lot more mature, desire/evil is lamented, but not projected onto some other, like reznor does.

this music gives us a release from having to live up to the impossible standards of our societies vanity, it exposes us as always being closer to victims or murders than we want to think. the human condition is one sick pathology and we're spared the humiliation of having to feel good about it. instead we can despair and as guest says, there is this kind of inverted transcendence where the whole world becomes black when the element of light is introduced to these horrible songs.

again - is there ANYONE else in music who came close to that?
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Old 05.23.2014, 10:35 AM   #142
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Fascinating reading. I thank you guys for this. And while I do think we strongly disagree on the end result of all this development/devolution, you compel me to explore early Swans. (They were always on my master list, but it took me until Seer to make the move to them. Blasphema, I know.)
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Old 05.23.2014, 08:52 PM   #143
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Originally Posted by guest
okay suchman, the problem lies not in their 'finding of god' so much as it is that this discovery is so ideologically opposed to what endeared swans to me in the first place.

That is a fair critique, and one which is often behind how people lose relative interest or passion in some of their favorite artists' later works as those artists naturally progress, evolve as humans.

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there was a definite shift however around the time subsequent to children of god (with this new 'love-life' approach certainly permeating that record's intense spiritualism ughhhh) where gira seemed to allow some light into his worldview, albeit still tempering it with a liberal dose of his signature brutality.

I'm glad I wasn't totally off-base on my interpretation of these past two records as being about acceptance. I don't think they've lost their edge or fierceness, its just tempered, and in this way a more mature glimpse into our inner darkness, but as you've said, having the perspective of finally transcended it. In this way, the earlier Swans reflects the perspective o the Initiate, where as these past few records reflect a Transcendent Master. I don't think the abrasive Nihilistic approach has changed or been lost, IF ANYTHING THESE ARE SOME OF THE MOST SONICALLY BRUISING AND DEAFENING SWANS RECORDS EVER (GUITAR AND NOISEWISE) but the lyrical theme and overall "feel" of these records is much different. Its again, tempered by experience.

Quote:
the new stuff, however, simply doesn't feel honest in that gira's worldview has undoubtedly changed. on the new record, take something like 'some things we do' or 'screenshot' where he is merely rattling off phrases which could have been picked out of a swans lyrics hat for fuck's sake. therein lies the caricature (forgive me for the skewed thought, I'm real fucking tired).

Forgive you for what, posting some of the best SYG music discussions ever? Substantive? Honest? Compelling? Keep it up yo, I'm having the most fun in years talking about these records and reading you and dead_battery's perspectives. I disagree with you here in this one regard, how are they not honest records just because the perspective has changed? If anything, aren't they then MORE honest? After all, would you have rather Gira just faked it and shit out an imitation of early Swans music? Wouldn't you rather he as an artist share his newest art that reflects his most recent developments and perspective as an artist? Also, I disagree with your shrugging off some songs as if they were just haphazardly cut-and-paste constructed to sound sort of like Gira music. I think that 'Things We Do' is not a caricature of early Swans kind of almost sadistic music, rather, its a more honest self-reflection, in the same way that dead_battery described, letting society be portrayed on its own terms and left to fester. However, society is not always as brutal as it can be at its worst, and even the darkest night has some light, inward, in finding beauty in life, even through suffering. In this way, I think Swans on this record and those songs are not merely trying to have a throwback, but revisit the same themes and imagery which has always been a part of their music, but from the more transcended perspective. So why the earlier records approach this themes with a growl, I think these last few records approach them more with an empathetic sigh.



Quote:
conversely, while gira and swans are using a markedly similar palette to that which they used on soundtracks for the blind, the purpose of the music is no longer to overwhelm but rather to achieve transcendence, to rise above the murk in which their music was previously grounded, if not inextricably immersed in.
SEE, THIS IS EXACTLY WHERE I AGREE AND DISAGREE WITH YOU. I agree that you've nailed the description of the "Swans" approach to music, a kind of immersion in the sonic destruction and abrasiveness, but that is why I disagree with your criticisms of To Be Kind. That shit immerses you deeper than any other Swans records in the pure SOUND of their cruelty. You are overwhelmed, overcome, and flooded SONICALLY by the feedback, the intensity, the distortion, the choreographed chaos, its everything that Swans has always done, but much like Sonic Nurse from Sonic Youth, just much more mature and sophisticated. You are overwhelmed to the point of transcendence, and really, isn't that kind of the point? Should suffering ONLY be about wallowing in the void and emptiness of it, or after enough DECADES of life should human beings not be expected to transcend their lives because of this life-long experience?

Quote:

it was this latter approach which drew me to them; a 15 year old kid jaded by the sad state of rock music, seeing music that didn't so much obscure the light as it did totally invert it, rendering the whole world black. to then shift so dramatically unfortunately, to me, means that it is not befitting of the swans name,

HERE IS THE CRUX OF OUR DISAGREEMENT. You want Swans to appeal to the 15 year old you, but that is not who they are anymore, and really, is that who you are? Are you still 15? Do you really want to be that person forever? Swans recent few records reflect more particularly their age, that they've at the least matured through their experience as humans. That is what life is about, and art reflects life. If the artists is trapped in the 15 year old mindset, they have failed.


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THIS IS SWANS, CUNT. it goes far beyond mere descriptors of it being 'dark' and 'heavy', and yet I feel that their current output can for better or worse be reduced to said adjectives, even when much of the time it is indeed much more than that, because of michael gira's almost comical approach to lyrics and vocalisation now.

What is funny is I thought some of the 1990s shit was much more comical and campy, and this shit felt a bit more sincere. If anything, it sounds to me like in artists' terms "has found his voice" more confidently than before. It is different, definitely, but I think your not fair in your insistence that in its being so different that its disingenuous. .

I read every word of all the posts here, I was so excited just to talk about Swans because nobody outside of SYG I know likes this music or band, so I hope y'all take the time to read and reflect on all of my post
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Old 05.23.2014, 08:59 PM   #144
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Originally Posted by dead_battery

again - is there ANYONE else in music who came close to that?

You're going to totally shit on me for both saying this and bringing it up again, but yes, on Lateralus this is EXACTLY what Maynard James Keenan does lyrically, and what tool does sonically. Lateralus is an existential record that does not sugar coat or try to positively slant life, rather, it portrays all the realities of the human experience on the table, naked and exposed, and we are asked to live through this in the hour of that record, and we are not given any guidance as to how we should interpret it. We are just left to experience it. The sound and dynamics of the music perfectly reflects this. The lyrics explore it directly and yet also in a nuanced and subtle way. But I agree completely with you that (a) there are few to none artists who explore life this way through the art of their music and (b) that tool does not come any where near CLOSE to the depth of the vista that is Swans' approach to this kind of honest panorama of being human.
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Old 05.23.2014, 09:46 PM   #145
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Originally Posted by dead_battery
there's also a big theistic vibe to it all which i dont like.


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you can only go so far in mapping them before you have to pull back and make some sort of peace with it all.


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Originally Posted by SuchFriendsAreDangerous
If anything, what these last two records reflect in my opinion is the band "finding God" and not in any kind of religious or divine sense, rather in the sense of "coming to terms with ones' self."

Again, I'm glad I'm not totally off-base in my assessment, it came to me like an epiphany walking to work the other morning, so suddenly and overwhelmingly that I had to stop and write it down on a piece of paper so as not to lose it.
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Old 05.23.2014, 10:15 PM   #146
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Damn!! Skuj, why don't you just buy or rent some goddamn early Swans from someone and stop saying you need to.

set that Merzbow aside. you're starting to get on my nerves.

btw, nothing is like William Dafoe in Wild at Heart.

Haha, ok ok I'll get there, but these days I'm too fuckin busy with the last 3 Swans releases.

I haven't read all the other new comments yet, but if Gira put these guys together and called it Hens or Roosters or something, would we have a somewhat different debate? Or if this was a bunch of old fuckers releasing their first music. Theoretical I know, but for me the criteria is: Is it great music or isn't it? The destination, not the journey.
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Old 05.23.2014, 10:43 PM   #147
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Haha, ok ok I'll get there, but these days I'm too fuckin busy with the last 3 Swans releases.

I haven't read all the other new comments yet, but if Gira put these guys together and called it Hens or Roosters or something, would we have a somewhat different debate? Or if this was a bunch of old fuckers releasing their first music. Theoretical I know, but for me the criteria is: Is it great music or isn't it? The destination, not the journey.

I think that is a fair assessment, and really, in calling this permutation "Swans" I think Gira is asserting is ownership on the Swans art of the past, so its fair for long-time Swans fans to critique it, yet these past few records in indeed almost a different band, structurally speaking. Then again, Swans always had a fluid line up anyways so...
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Old 05.24.2014, 12:24 AM   #148
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You're going to totally shit on me for both saying this and bringing it up again, but yes, on Lateralus this is EXACTLY what Maynard James Keenan does lyrically, and what tool does sonically. Lateralus is an existential record that does not sugar coat or try to positively slant life, rather, it portrays all the realities of the human experience on the table, naked and exposed, and we are asked to live through this in the hour of that record, and we are not given any guidance as to how we should interpret it. We are just left to experience it. The sound and dynamics of the music perfectly reflects this. The lyrics explore it directly and yet also in a nuanced and subtle way. But I agree completely with you that (a) there are few to none artists who explore life this way through the art of their music and (b) that tool does not come any where near CLOSE to the depth of the vista that is Swans' approach to this kind of honest panorama of being human.

i dont see many comparisons, tool did 90s post modern rage, they belong to that lineage with ratm, nin, nirvana etc. and all those bands. tool added a whole load of cynical hippie mysticism to it, i dont think it was particularly interesting from a lyrical perspective. it works as a kind of heavy metal redo of prog. its definitely very good music.

tool only has two moves - rage and then mystical bliss. there's a kind of tension between these two and it gets dark.

you are really just talking about your personal experience here. tool cannot compare to swans on a lyrical level. they have simply never approached the layers of complexity and depth that gira has. tool never could write something like killing for company.

i dont think they really need to either. their point was to be a lot more open ended and expansive, and their lyrics on lateralus NEED to be vague because they are aiming for a kind of elevation of the mundane and stressful into some kind of mystical tribulation.

tool have the APPEARANCE of complexity in what they say, and that's all that really matters. but there are times when it borders on crap.

i mean, tool never got beyond the most basic level where maynard goes "im battling through this stress, then there's this mystical release." it was typical loud quiet loud alt rock, only it was dressed up with alex chiu cover art and mystical stoner bullshit.

im not criticising all that, its fine, it works very well for the aesthetic of a prog-metal band. but it just cannot be compared to swans, where gira is sometimes writing stuff that can stand on its own as prose.

maynard is just doing dark but uplifting stuff. fine for what it is, except for when it borders on pantomime punk anger like on certain aenemia tracks.

i dont think you read my original post except for the last line, and you just want to talk about what tool means to you, which should be done in a thread specifically for that.
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Old 05.24.2014, 04:21 AM   #149
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So what's the crux of all this jibber jabber, is the new record not very good? Have Swans gone soft? Should I go and see them next week (tickets are pricey, I'm in two minds)?
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Old 05.24.2014, 04:41 AM   #150
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Should I go and see them next week (tickets are pricey, I'm in two minds)?

Why not?
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Old 05.24.2014, 06:04 AM   #151
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It's pricey
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Old 05.24.2014, 12:29 PM   #152
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£24 is not too bad for a band that big. It's more than I normally spend on the average gig though. I hope they are going to play all the hits from the last 2 albums.
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Old 05.24.2014, 03:16 PM   #153
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dead_battery, I read EVERY word of what you posted here, took me like a fucking hour, enjoyed by beer with it, and enjoyed the posts all the more. Keep it up. As too tool, notice I said that they didn't come close to the depth of the vista that is Swans lyrics but I mentioned them because you said no other band even approaches the edge of that cliff, afraid of the view, and I think tool inches around that same territory, even if they don't like to jump along the side of that cliff face like mountain goats like Swans do.

Also, spot on tool analysis by the way, I enjoyed that too. As to the DVD, watched it last night, it wasn't that it was disappointing on its own, but I had also watched a youtube show from April 2014 and its SO MUCH FUCKING BETTER. That DVD is clearly from the tour where they road tested this material before recording, and the current tour reflects a better progression and band dynamic to playing this music live.

Toilet and Bowels, you're making me feel increasingly stupid for not yet getting tickets to Swans here in LA, at the Roxy (which means 200 capacity hole in the wall dive bar hence very intimate show), not for 24 pounds, but just $24
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Old 05.25.2014, 12:56 AM   #154
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Kinda driving me nuts though that this "historical/perspective" discussion might be taking away from the fact that this album is fucking monumentally good.

The ending of Kirsten Supine send shivers down my spine. Been driving around today with cd2 played FUCKING LOUD, and this album is produced so exceptionally well.
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Old 05.25.2014, 08:06 AM   #155
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£24 is not too bad for a band that big. It's more than I normally spend on the average gig though. I hope they are going to play all the hits from the last 2 albums.

My housemate who has 90% bad taste in music said she heard the new swans record and really liked it, so that made me wonder if they'd turned rubbish overnight or something
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Old 05.25.2014, 08:15 AM   #156
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SuchFriendsAreDangerous
dead_battery, I read EVERY word of what you posted here, took me like a fucking hour, enjoyed by beer with it, and enjoyed the posts all the more. Keep it up. As too tool, notice I said that they didn't come close to the depth of the vista that is Swans lyrics but I mentioned them because you said no other band even approaches the edge of that cliff, afraid of the view, and I think tool inches around that same territory, even if they don't like to jump along the side of that cliff face like mountain goats like Swans do.

Also, spot on tool analysis by the way, I enjoyed that too. As to the DVD, watched it last night, it wasn't that it was disappointing on its own, but I had also watched a youtube show from April 2014 and its SO MUCH FUCKING BETTER. That DVD is clearly from the tour where they road tested this material before recording, and the current tour reflects a better progression and band dynamic to playing this music live.

Toilet and Bowels, you're making me feel increasingly stupid for not yet getting tickets to Swans here in LA, at the Roxy (which means 200 capacity hole in the wall dive bar hence very intimate show), not for 24 pounds, but just $24

really? do tool do that? i honesty never noticed.
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Old 05.25.2014, 04:10 PM   #157
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I have to admit I am sharing similar feelings about this reunion-reinvention of Swans.

Swans Are Dead was such a statement, an epitome of everything the band stood for.

Musically it felt like "this is how far Swans can go". The version of Blood Promise on the album still is my favorite song they ever did, the ending build-up leaves me in cold sweat, the emotional intensity! This was the end of Swans, but it felt right. Gira killed Swans, because there was nowhere else to go, nowhere to move, without becoming a cliché, without starting to imitate itself.

I was pleasantly surprised when I heard Swans are coming back together. I thought to myself that Gira would not bring back Swans without a reason, that maybe he found a way to step beyond Swans are Dead.

I was disappointed. I love the new stuff, I truly do, but it's nothing like the Swans I loved, sometimes I doubt it's Swans at all.

I think to properly reflect on the new Swans one must take into account Gira's work with Angels of Light.

We get songs that are droned out for 30 minutes, okay, I get that, but none of the new songs (with the exception of Kirsten Supine, maybe) offer anything as intense and powerful as The Sound, Helpless Child or, the already mentioned, Blood Promise.

Again, I like the new Swans (maybe I just badly want to), but all those 30-35 min songs feel pointless to me.
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Old 05.25.2014, 08:57 PM   #158
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Toilet & Bowels
My housemate who has 90% bad ta wste in music said she heard the new swans record and really liked it, so that made me wonder if they'd turned rubbish overnight or something
Take her along with you if you change your mind.
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Old 05.25.2014, 09:00 PM   #159
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This thread is years too late. Swans went soft with the album I mentioned on a previous post. Good night and good morning.
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Old 05.25.2014, 09:04 PM   #160
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Tool suck.
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