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Angels Of Light - We are Him

  by Andrew Carver

published: 24 / 8 / 2007

Angels Of Light - We are Him
Label: Young God Records
Format: CD


Latest album from Michael Gira's Angels of Light which despite replacing the industrialism of his first, most famous band the Swans with a combination of folk, country and hillbilly music remains doom-laden and disturbing

The new album from Michael Gira’s Angels of Light once again sees the inexorable industrial crunch of his first, most famous band the Swans subsumed into a pleasantly resonant combination of folk, country and hillbilly music. But even though hammer dulcimer has replaced hammered metal sheets and banjo, mandolin and cello have supplanted crunching guitar, and Gira croons more often than he bellows – he sounds half prophet of doom, half David Byrne impressionist on ‘Black River Song’ – the bilious threats of the Swans remain coiled in the bloody-minded meditations of ‘We Are Him’. ‘Promise of Water’ is a bit of drowsy Americana wrapped around a bitter denigration of a public duped and blinkered turned to apocalyptic savagery after the deception is revealed. ‘The Man We Left Behind’ is a slightly schmaltzy bit of Lee Hazelwood-influenced country rock – a bit like a Neil Diamond folk tune, if only Neil had been singing about someone he’d left tied to a chair instead of his babysitter. Those still pining after the Swans will get some of their fix from ‘My Brother’s Man’; with its squealing guitar intro and stabbing chords it sounds like Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds earlier work and Firewater. Gira does some of his best vocal work to date on ‘We Are Him’ and draws out the words of ‘Not Here/Not Now’ into a threatening croon, laid over a feathery chorus of backing vocals. Most of the album is a sombre affair, but ‘Joseph’s Song’ starts off as a sparse catalogue of the listener’s errors of musical inauthenticity before taking on a jaunty carnivalesque air as it contemplates the condemned being tossed into the ocean (for a Gira tune, this qualifies as a happy ending), while the title track courses along on droning cellos, violins and accordion before kicking into a spiky take on revival rock. It’s the most forceful track on the album, a charismatic sermon put to tape. Not every track is a winner: ‘Sometimes I Dream I’m Hurting’ devolves into strident repetition that sounds too forced to be convincing. Fortunately things return to form with the bouncy ‘Sunflower Stays Here’, the tale of a chipper, cheery chap who is destroying the planet; a metaphor, perhaps, for the damage done to the Earth for the sake of blithe consumerism. ‘Good bye Mary Lou’ breaks out the banjo and mandolin in a major way for a spiteful rethink of the classic pop song theme of female rejection that ends with a sotto voce offer of forgiveness. The penultimate track ‘The Visitor’ seems almost painfully straightforward in its portrayal of a lover’s doubts, and ‘Star-Chaser’ is a steady and self-assured closer to an album fraught with emotional turmoil. ‘We Are Him’ is another delightfully packaged chapter of doom and despair in Gira’s catalogue.

Track Listing:-
1 Black River Song
2 Promise of Water
3 The Man We Left Behind
4 My Brother's Man
5 No Here/Not Now
6 Joseph's Song
7 We Are Him
8 Sometimes I Dream I'm Hurting You
9 Sunflower's Here to Stay
10 Good Bye Mary Lou
11 The Visitor
12 Star Chaser

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Interview (2007)
Angels Of Light - Interview
Ex-Swans front-man and owner of Young God records Michael Gira's latest musical project Angels of Light has just released its fifth album 'We Are Him'. Jamie Rowland chats to him about it, the potentially bleak future of Young God and his music

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