My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky
Young God Records
Swans are beautiful, graceful birds known for forming monogamous bonds. The Swans are a legendary noise rock band known for their violent, abrasive music. The avant-garde group formed in 1982 and broke up a decade and a half later. They’re back with their first studio album in 14 years, My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky. Released on frontman Michael Gira’s own Young God Records, My Father expands on the Swans’ uncompromising formula of unnerving, atonal, dissonant sounds. This ain’t dinner music.
The opening track, “No Words/No Thoughts” is an epic nine-and-a-half minutes. The ironically-titled song is the most thoughtful and diverse on the entire record. The first few minutes could be described as the soundtrack to a snuff film — what with chimes and violent chords pounded incessantly over swooshing guitars. Menacing marching beats provide a sturdy backbone a third of the way through along with more chimes and special effects noise. It’s as if a possessed orchestra was playing all the instruments backwards.
“Reeling the Liars In” follows “No Words/No Thoughts” by being completely different in virtually every way except for one — creepiness. Gira sings the demonic acoustic hymn in his trademark deadpan, “we are removing their face/ collecting their skin/ we are reeling the liars in.”
The Swans sidestep any potential boredom from their relentless rhythms with intricate orchestration and confounding progressions. For example, folkie oddball Devendra Banhart (who released his debut album on Young God Records) and Gira’s three-year-old daughter share vocals on “You Fucking People Make Me Sick.” Awwwwww. The young girl repeats after Banhart “I love you/ I need you/ oh show me/ how to shine/ I love you/ young flower/ now give me/ what is mine” before the song descends into what sounds like a piano falling down a flight of steps amid a cacophony of out-of-tune horns.
To keep us on our toes, the Swans finish My Father with a “normal” love song. Hell, you could slow dance to “Little Mouth.” Gira harmonizes over the same four chords and ends a capella with “may I find… ” With his reformed legendary Swans and busy record label, Gira likely won’t have to search long.
Young God Records: www.younggodrecords.com