Swans
Public Castration Is a Good Idea


4.5
superb

Review

by illmitch USER (16 Reviews)
March 2nd, 2009 | 68 replies


Release Date: 1986 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Jarring, atonal, minimalistic noise that will rip your skull apart

Before I begin this review, I’d like to start with a little caveat. This album is HARD to listen to. Users with either a) no prior history of listening to Swans or b) no desire of subjecting themselves to auditory pain should probably steer clear of this album.

With that said, let’s begin!

This is a live album, recorded at multiple venues in 1986. The songs don’t necessarily bear any resemblance to what you might hear on the albums; they strip away all the extraneous parts, going down to the raw foundation. Take their rendition of A Screw – an atonal track to begin with – lengthened to over half its original length, with everything taken out but the primal beat and Gira’s sickening vocals. This music is so raw, I had to go to www.thesaurus.com to look up synonyms for “atonal”.

The album opens up with a cacophonous jarring beat, placing the listener in some industrial factory in Eastern Europe without sunlight and setting the course for the rest of the album. The effect is minimalistic and hypnotic, such that as I write this review, I find my head slowly nodding in agreement with the cold thuds and crashes. They let the beat build for a full four minutes before Michael Gira thinks to grace us with his vocals.

Quote:
Money is flesh / Money is flesh in your hand / You deserve it / You deserve it
You can barely make out the words but it doesn’t really matter. The emotion in them is overwhelming: you can feel Gira’s anger and hatred, and direct it towards yourself as he screams at you. There aren’t even really any instruments backing up the primal clang of the drums (if that noise can really even be summarized as “drums”), but there’s no need for that here. Swans relay the feeling of uselessness and angst with just Gira’s voice and a crushing beat better than your average symphonic black metal band could do with a full orchestra. Even when they do use instruments, they simply play indeterminable, musically ambiguous “melodies” that could really be nothing more than a few notes picked from the bottom end of the piano.

Quote:
Keep your head on the ground / Keep your head on the ground / Push your ass up / Push your ass up / Open your mouth / Here’s your money / Open your mouth / Here’s your money / Open your mouth / This feels good
This album is, more or less, the ultimate expression of what Swans are. Beyond all the emotions, Swans is the rendition of the domination of one person over another. They are the musical equivalent of raw, industrial capitalism, of rape, of fascism, of everybody’s worse parts magnified a thousand times. They are a cruel catharsis, letting everything out and taking pleasure in it. They are the music you listen to when you’re angry that ends up just making you feel worse. They are not a band to listen to casually…but their force is incredible, phenomenal.



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user ratings (120)
Chart.
4.1
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
illmitch
March 2nd 2009


5511 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Resubmitted. Nobody has yet to catch the Lil' Wayne reference.

fireaboveicebelow
March 2nd 2009


6832 Comments


what, atonal?

illmitch
March 2nd 2009


5511 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

hah

noisymugwump
June 1st 2009


103 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Not the best Swans release but certainly the most harsh and minimal. These dingbats won't know what to make of em.

Spare
July 18th 2009


5567 Comments


I just started to listen to this and oh my GOD

illmitch
July 18th 2009


5511 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i know right

Spare
July 18th 2009


5567 Comments


this is painful

kitsch
July 19th 2009


5117 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

whoa i never bothered to get any of their live shit but im def checking this out.

sideburndude
May 14th 2013


2782 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Hey guys

Best Swans

Artuma
May 14th 2013


29044 Comments


this is a 1 or a 5 but i can't decide which

Artuma
May 14th 2013


29044 Comments


so powerful, painful and confusing that i don't know what to think about this

DrHouseSchuldiner
May 14th 2013


5643 Comments


Pos'd,nice rev ...rly like this band so im gonna check this one asap

Artuma
May 14th 2013


29044 Comments


this is probably the angriest thing ever done

sideburndude
May 14th 2013


2782 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

one of the best 5sure

ILJ
June 18th 2013


6941 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

if i were to ever torture and kill a motherfucker, this would be the music i would put on while doing so.

YakNips
June 18th 2013


18934 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I so need to listen to this

Kman418
July 5th 2013


13257 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

oh my god

demigod!
July 5th 2013


49220 Comments


i really need to get into this band

Kman418
July 5th 2013


13257 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

they're fucking intense listening to this at 4 am was a terrible idea omfg i feel like im gonna die help

Kman418
July 5th 2013


13257 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i mean that in the best way possible though of course



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