# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Swans - The Glowing Man

  by Paul Waller

published: 29 / 7 / 2016

Swans - The Glowing Man
Label: Mute Records
Format: CD X2


Overwhelming but repetitive double album and the final one in the present line-up of Swans before it calls it a day

Before I begin I have to say that I love Swans. They are fourteen albums in, and I can honestly say there is not an album in their back catalogue I don’t like. I can take at least something from each record that I hadn’t come across before; they have been a band always on the move, always finding some fresh way to approach their peculiar brand of noise. Head Swan Michael Gira always discovers a new way to express his feelings be it rage, disgust, hope or love and typically anything in between. I am a total fan boy. They have been a band that since their reformation in 2010 with ‘My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky’ has arguably bettered their original 80's output, and yet now, some five listens into ‘The Glowing Man’, the group seems to have run out of ideas. Well, not ideas as such. This two hour long beast is full of them. It’s just that they don’t excite. As an audience we expect a Swans album to contain a track to last half an hour but that song should be full of twists and turns and highs and lows and yet on this much of the dynamic shifts have been binned in favour of stretched-out repetition. Now I mentioned that I have listened to the album five times because when listening to Swans that is quite important. The album is so long that there is a good chance that all that I have just said will become redundant on the sixth listen. Ever since hearing 2012’s ‘The Seer’ as a listener you can still discover wonders years down the line. Its why I love them so. Yet on initial plays this mammoth album suffers from repetition fever. Even the final track, a throwaway by Swans standards lasting a mere six minutes lacks any of the power that I have come to expect from the band. There may be some beautiful female choral backing vocals going on but again it is one great idea spread really thin for the majority of the song’s entire duration. This diminishes the effect rather than enhancing the component parts. It's ironic this track is called ‘Finally, Peace’. I have to admit to being relieved when it finishes. I want more! Swans being Swans, ‘The Glowing Man’ can still destroy most other bands with ease. The first eleven minutes of ‘Frankie M’ is a terrifying case in point. The swirling discordance sways and plunders for the first eight minutes before the pummelling repetition of the following section begins. When the song proper starts on acoustic guitar though it’s almost deflating, like Gira has put a pin to a balloon he has just spent an age pumping up. Swapping the aggro for a more complacent and genteel overall feel is a somewhat ballsy move and I get it, I understand why the band’s music has evolved this way and yes in places the instrumentation is intricate, delicate and rather wonderful. The opening duo of ‘Cloud of Forgetting’ and ‘Cloud of Unknowing’ are effective evidence of that, but overall ’The Glowing Man’ is proof that this version of Swans has run its course. Still, I can’t wait to see what comes next.

Track Listing:-
1 Cloud of Forgetting
2 Cloud of Unknowing
3 The World Looks Red/the World Looks Black
4 People Like Us
5 Frankie M
6 The Glowing Man
7 Finally Peace
8 When Will I Return
9 Swans Live 2015

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Interview (2013)
Swans - Interview
Paul Waller talks to New York-based experimental musician Michael Gira about taking his abrasive band Swans back out on the road again and their recent album, 'The Seer'
Interview (2010)
Interview (2010)

live reviews

KOKO, London, 15/11/2012
Chrisn O' Toole watches reformed American post-punks Swans play an intense, but brilliant set at the KOKO in London
Academy, Manchester, 30/10/2010



White Light from the Mouth of Infinity/ Love of Life (2016)
Excellent reissue on three CD box set, including an additional CD of live tracks and demos, of New York-based experimentalists Swans' early 1990s studio albums, 'White Light from the Mouth of Infinity' and 'Love of Life'
To Be Kind (2014)
The Seer (2012)
The Great Annihilator (2002)

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