Finding and listening to Swans is one of the best musical experiences one can ever get. Today Michael Gira is considered a visionary and inspiring musician and the album ‘Children Of God‘ is the proof of his journey to materialize his vision. Gira is a musician who manages to take human emotions and feelings of the surroundings and turn them into music. Even silence applies to his sound and, undoubtedly he plays it loud.
‘Children Of God‘ is the album which changes the course of the band compared with the previous releases. With this album Swans take a more experimental turn and, considering that ‘Children Of God‘ is a masterpiece, they opened the way for amazing albums in the years to follow. This experimentation is not a one off, but a constant search of more complicated compositions and mixtures. Although Gira denies it, I can’t think of anything else for his inspirations but his personal experiences and the way he sees and feels the world. The sound of Swans is the sound of the soul, half primitive half modernized or twisted by the touch of society and human mind. In ‘Children Of God‘ Swans deal with the concept of love; the love for and of God, the love for oneself, the love for the other and even maybe the love for the materials.
The first amazing thing here is that the lyrics let everyone decide what they think and feel this kind of love is. Is it a healthy or sick form of love? Is it a desperate need or a normal human condition? Through each song’s lyrics, but mostly at the end there is a kind of statement which implies that human beings are considering themselves special. Probably this is why they seek the love of God and other people. Obviously, the second amazing thing in this album is the music. Swans created an album so diverse yet so coherent that it takes more than one listening to grasp what has been done here. There are elements of post-rock/punk, americana, blues, gothic and electronic. All these elements appear like fragments throughout the album and this is what makes it a masterpiece, as it isn’t just a result of an influence. They come and go like waves which shape the rocks. For me, the track which is the perfect example to what I am describing is ‘Blind Love‘ which felt like a silent post-punk song.
The performance is also perfect. The participation of Jarboe whose voice is calm and angelic in combination with the more aggressive and passionate vocals of Gira, point out the choice of the band’s name and the musical vision: “Swans are majestic, beautiful looking creatures. With really ugly temperaments” (Mart Kawaii interview, flowersinagun 2013 / http://www.flowersinagun.com/interview-with-michael-gira-from-swans/). Gira’s performance stands out in the shocking and agonizing track ‘Beautiful Child‘.
Swans have an amazing discography which, I can’t deny, is difficult to listen to in terms of complexity, innovation and edginess. ‘Children Of God‘ is the starting point of this challenging journey.