Thursday, 12 June 2014
Swans "To Be Kind" (Young God)
On first listen I was thinking this could be the best album ever made. Without a doubt it's the best Swans album yet and album of the first half of 2014. Three albums into their reactivation Swans epitomise genuine progression. On the two gigs I saw on their recent tour they only played four songs from this album, and the claustrophobic "Oxygen" was so slowed and mutated as to be a new piece of music. Aside from "The Apostate" from previous album "The Seer" the rest of the set consisted of new songs. The highlight of those gigs was the final song about a black hole man called Joseph which bodes well for the future, but my favourite from this album was the accusatory "A Little God In My Hands" where hairy percussionist Thor Harris gets to blast the loudest trombone in the world. The epic "Bring the Sun" also survived Michael Gira's ruthless axe, and at Birmingham Supersonic they played the otherworldy tribute to Chester Burnett "Just A ittle Boy." Michael Gira's twisted vocal and the eruption of sinister laughter make this an unsettling song even by Swans standards. The last song on each CD of this double disc finds a calm after the storm, and Swans really are like a hurricane. Their ravenous need to make as much music as possible before fate deals its mortal blow has resulted in relentless magnificence. "To Be Kind" is two hours of transcendent tripping into musical regions no one else has dared open up before, a genuinely progressive vision of the violent mutation rock music should always strive for but rarely does.If you've ever liked Swans then you need this. If you have yet to experience their brutal hallucinogenic universe, then get this and move back in time album by album to find out what it took "To Be Kind."