Though Swans has had several sonic reincarnations, The Great Annihilator is one of the most important phoenixes in the flock. After five perverse, punishing records, Michael Gira and crew began to slowly drift up from the gutters into some puzzling territory. The band followed up Children of God (1987) with an unexpected absolution and released The Burning World (1989), a collection of gothic-tinged neofolk album which was easily the most pleasant offering they’d composed up until that point. Then came sister albums White Light From the Mouth of Infinity (1991) and Love of Life (1992), which strayed slightly from their predecessor but took the general framework along with them. Swaying between dismal post punk, morbid folk and unidentifiable bliss, these albums flirted with a sound that Gira and crew would perfect on The Great Annihilator (1995), one of the greatest achievements of Swans initial life as a band.
Known internationally for his work with Shearwater, Smog/Bill Callahan, the Angels of Light, Swans, and Devendra Banhart, Thor Harris is also a legendary craftsman whose woodworking skills are apparent in the handcrafted percussive instruments he employs – Monofonus Press. Our latest piece in this series on protest music and art is an interview with Thor Harris, he of the crushing soothing percussive sounds behind Blog faves, Swans, and lately more notorious for having been banned from Twitter for either a video on how to punch a Nazi (don’t do it unless you have to) or for images used on his profile. YMMV.
For those who missed our last installment, We post biweekly updates covering what the staff at Heavy Blog have been spinning. Given the amount of time we spend on the site telling you about music that does not fall neatly into the confines of conventional “metal,” it should come as…
The Glowing Man caps off a four album musical victory lap from a reinvigorated Gira, who convened a group of new and old collaborators at the turn of the decade to culminate Swans’ mission statement. A moderate re-introduction arrived with My Father Will Guide Me up a Rope to the Sky (2010), an admittedly great album that struggled with its reliance on ideas from Gira side-project Angels of Light. Yet, any early detractors scurried away once Swans unleashed The Seer (2012), easily one of the greatest albums of the decade and century thus far. Gira and crew’s experimental capabilities and limitless mindset led to a magnanimous statement of mood, sound and anti-structure that leveraged every aspect of Swans’ three-decade career in the most effective way possible. The Seer seemed inimitable, and To Be Kind (2014) proved that point correct – by demolishing Swans’ already desolate structure and rebuilding it in an adjacent, bastardized fashion.