The goal is ecstasy.
May 13, 2014 6:20 AM   Subscribe

Swans have a new album out. Called To Be Kind. Financing for the album was supplied by sales of the live album/collection of demos entitled Not Here/Not Now, which, for a price, Michael Gira himself would write and original song and send you a video of him singing it, just for you. Oh and, reviews are in for the new album, and they are very favorable. Links inside.

Pitchfork, 9.2: "To Be Kind adheres to a policy of transcendence by any means necessary, even if it means repeatedly bashing you in the face with a mallet until you’re seeing stars and colors."

AV Club, A-: "it’s a veritable gnostic gospel of noise-rock; hovering above the scraping and sawing of most mere mortals with guitars and drums, the album scrapes and saws as if attacking the fabric of reality rather than mere sanity. "

Spin, 9: "Swans' 'To Be Kind' Is a Monolithic Orgy of Blood, Guts and…Love"

Consequences of Sound, A-: "When he yelps, “I need love!” on “Just a Little Boy”, it’s not pitiable or demented; it’s merely the human condition boiled down to its rawest essentials via a broken-blues riff drilled into your skull over 12 minutes. In its droning self-focus, To Be Kind exposes the core, both its own and the listener’s, revealing the visceral building blocks of the song as well as the acts of listening and existing."

Tiny Mix Tapes, 4.5/5: "The achievement of To Be Kind is not a transcendental crossing over to a holy otherness in the sky, but the realization that each mote of filth is part and parcel of the universal mind."

Stream it now at NPR.

posted by MisantropicPainforest (25 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

> Stream it now at NPR.

This sentence blows my mind almost as much as a Swans show could.
posted by ardgedee at 6:33 AM on May 13 [8 favorites]

posted by JohnLewis at 6:38 AM on May 13

a Monolithic Orgy

How does that work? Invite lots of ape-men and people in moon suits?
posted by thelonius at 6:46 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]

Swans was formed in 1982... so if you are listening to them now, it's like listening to the Beach Boys in 1993.

Your favorite band is old.
posted by at 6:47 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]

Another positive review of the album (full disclosure: this was written by a friend).
posted by Kitteh at 6:47 AM on May 13

Swans are one of those bands that I can't count the number of times I've seen. The other bands I can say this about I am not as proud of. I bet I've seen Swans a good 12-15 times.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:51 AM on May 13

Swans was formed in 1982... so if you are listening to them now, it's like listening to the Beach Boys in 1993.

As much as I like this sentence, I heartily disagree in terms of evolutionary arc.
posted by uraniumwilly at 7:08 AM on May 13

This thread, unlike this LP, is depressing.
Great LP, even if Jarboe's lack is obvious.

He has a sexy, sexy voice.
posted by Mezentian at 7:14 AM on May 13

after, say, Filth, Swans studio albums were kind of unlistenable due to a combination of hippy shit and really bad mixing, but the live albums were transcendent.
posted by at 7:19 AM on May 13

So all Swans' studio albums were unlistenable?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 7:23 AM on May 13

So all Swans' studio albums were unlistenable?

Only a monster would suggest that.
posted by Mezentian at 7:26 AM on May 13

Gira was a guest on the Freak Zone this Sunday (so five days left to listen). He's on at 49:00.
posted by Devonian at 7:31 AM on May 13

Monolithic orgy
posted by thelonius at 9:07 AM on May 13

Swans was formed in 1982... so if you are listening to them now, it's like listening to the Beach Boys in 1993.

When I saw them live in 2012 I did the math and realized that it had been exactly 25 years since the last time I had seen them.
posted by googly at 9:36 AM on May 13

I just ordered To Be Kind the other day. I'm going see Swans in Aberdeen next weekend, and though I've seen Michael Gira solo a couple of times (and met him once; some friends were programing a festival bill and put him on, and he was as friendly and gracious and personable off-stage as he was fucking terrifying on it) I've never seen Swans live; I was in primary school when they were at their previous, mid-80s, peak.
posted by Len at 10:23 AM on May 13

Does anybody know if the physical media come with downloads? That 3 LP package looks awfully appealing...
posted by mr_roboto at 10:39 AM on May 13

I think it does, I preordered it like 6 months ago and I believe it has shipped, so I'll know soon.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:57 AM on May 13

I got my 2CD / DVD in the mail a couple of days ago (signed, even!), it's excellent.

Would not want to listen to it streaming over the internet....I'm no audiophile by any means, but Swans is really one of those things you need to hear on as good a sound system as you possibly can.

Seeing them in Philly in a couple of days, haven't been this excited about a concert in quite a while. Seeing them in the early 90s was definitely one of the top 5 concerts of my life (also the loudest).
posted by the bricabrac man at 11:44 AM on May 13

Seeing them in Philly in a couple of days

I'd be there with ya, but its my partners 30th.

UT is a great place to see a show, I saw Swans there last time they played.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:51 AM on May 13

Hey, I'll be at the upcoming Philly show as well. We always try to catch Michael Gira when he's performing in town, and we never regret it. (The oddest was an Angels of Light show about ten years ago at the old North by Northwest on Germantown Ave. If you knew the place and are incredulous at the mismatch...well, you're right.)

Len: "he was as friendly and gracious and personable off-stage as he was fucking terrifying on it"

Oh, that's very well-said, and I agree.
posted by desuetude at 1:33 PM on May 13

I thought the last Swans comeback album was decent, but this one is really outstanding. They still put on a great live set too.
posted by whir at 2:56 PM on May 13

I love Swans but I gotta say, My Father... and The Seer are actually about 70% Angels of Light, 30% Swans. Which is fine, because I love Angels of Light about as much as Swans, but something about the two new records just makes them feel non-Swansy. Of course, it's Gira's band and he can call it whatever he wants and play whatever kind of music he wants, but when you think of Swans you think of a very particular thing.

Anyway, great collection of links, looking forward to listening to this bad boy.
posted by turbid dahlia at 4:19 PM on May 13

Oh god. I just got a new job. And now I have to wait a few weeks before I can order this. FIFTH WORLD PROBLEMS!
posted by lumpenprole at 5:12 PM on May 13

Ok, so, the opener, "Screen Shot", is supremely badass.
posted by turbid dahlia at 5:12 PM on May 13 [1 favorite]

I could see an album consisting of only the third track, "Bring The Sun/Touissant l'Ouverture" being in my end-of-year list, easily.

The album is magnificent--a perfect psychedelic music for this decade.
posted by hototogisu at 8:24 PM on May 19

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