Swans have been around for a while. They started way back in 1982, stopped in 1997 and then reinvented themselves in 2010. That’s also when I first heard of them, not really being into experimental no-wave when I was 10 years old. So my introduction came pretty late, but I was immediately hooked, listening to everything they released and buying all their reissues to really understand what Swans are all about. To me, the masterpiece of their current line-up is To Be Kind, Which still haunts my dreams, but The Glowing Man is a fitting end to this incarnation of Swans.
If you have listened to any of their past 2 albums, you’ll notice that very few things have changed. TGM is a double album, with 4 songs on each side, spanning just under two hours. As always, it’s a challenging listen at times, since songs often span 25 minutes. But there’s a lot to find and love here.
It’s hard to tell someone what Swans sound like. I found that out while trying to write this review. They are unique, with elements of drone, krautrock, no-wave, post-punk and more genres flowing and weaving a tapestry of sound. They sound like Swans, like Scott Walker sounds like Scott Walker. There are no bands like them. And that’s part of the appeal offcourse, since being unique has become increasingly difficult in this day and age.
The Glowing Man. As usual, it’s a harsh record, but more subdued then their previous efforts. It’s scary stuff, with some songs leading you through a labyrinth, where death seems to be coming from behind every corner, and shrill guitar noise permeates the air. And when Jennifer Gira, wife of, sings “When I stab with all my strenght”, you believe her, and you feel actually discomforted. This isn’t happy stuff. It never was with Swans.
My favourite track is The Glowing Man. Because it feels like the climax of this album. A 28 minute climax, that shifts and turns and has a plottwist at the end. The last song, Finally, Peace, is like the end of Invasion Of The Bodysnatchers, where Donald Sutherland screeches into the camera and it confirms what you already knew ; it’s all gone to shit. The Glowing Man is the song that fucks it all up in the first place. It isn’t up on youtube, but the live version is, so witness the force of destruction that Swans live are.
So, this was the last Swans album with this “cast”. I can’t wait what Michael Gira pulls out his sleeve next. I doubt that it’ll sound like Adele. But hey, who knows. For now, The Glowing Man will be a constant reminder of Michael gira’s genius. I’m somewhere in the credits btw, a cookie when you find me.