Swans
Swans


4.0
excellent

Review

by Brendan M. USER (35 Reviews)
June 27th, 2014 | 13 replies | 846 views


Release Date: 1982 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The first Swans release is quite different than what you would expect from the band that made Filth only one year later.

When you think of the group Swans, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Would it be their early brutal days, their gothic melodicism of the 90s, or their modern hypnotism? Personally, the first thing I would think of would be their masterpiece Soundtracks for the Blind since it took just about everything they did and spread it around onto two discs. It had the apocalyptic post-rock their modern albums possess, some compositions in the vein of Glenn Branca’s orchestral work, headache inducing noise, their unique brand of gothic rock, and plenty of odd surprises such as dance music and tape looping pieces in the realm of “Revolution 9”. For all those reasons, I would consider it to be their White Album. But, what is their first EP like? We all generally accept albums such as Filth and Cop as their starting points, but what does their first ever release sound like?

Around the late 70s and early 80s, there was a small new scene known as “No Wave” brewing in New York City. Perhaps the best example of this overall sound is the Eno-produced compilation No New York, which comprised of James Chance and The Contortions, Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, Mars, and DNA. Michael Gira has stated that he liked this scene, but at the same time he's said he hated it, but this EP seems to prove the former. Swans borrows quite a bit from the No Wave movement, such as the use of a saxophone, manic vocal approach, high dose of energy, and the love for both noise and melody. Michael Gira in particular sounds very different in his vocal approach though, by possessing an almost James Chance-esque delivery, instead of the growls or shouted vocals he used on their debut LP. The drumming is quite different as well, with a completely traditional kit, and somewhat conventional approach compared to their later material. The guitars are still likely to drone on and on with a crisp, noisy tone to them, which actually hints at what would later come for Swans. Every song seems to be in a very dissonant key, but because of this, the sound doesn’t differ very much from song to song. All of this equates into a very satisfying slab of No Wave music.

So overall, the debut EP of Swans is a very satisfying one. It’s very different from the rest of their material for the most part, but there are some hints of what was to come to be found inside this release. The songs tend to stick to the same overall formula, which is noisy guitar “melodies”, Joy Division-esque bass playing, Michael Gira’s energetic vocals, and an overall very dissonant sound. Despite not differing from one another though, everything seems to work just fine for them, with little to no faults. It borrows a lot from the No Wave scene, and at times may seem like a bit of an imitation, but there is enough originality in here for it to not be just another throwaway. Check this out if you’re interested in the beginnings of Swans, or even the scene of No Wave bands for that matter, but if you’re looking to get into Swans, don’t start here.



Recent reviews by this author
Earth Primitive and DeadlyRefused This Just Might Be... the Truth
Husker Du Land Speed RecordThe Wildhearts The Wildhearts Must Be Destroyed
68 In Humor and SadnessGodflesh Us and Them
user ratings (40)
Chart.
3.5
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
BMDrummer
June 27th 2014


7079 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yay, the first Swans release. Feedback welcome!

Digging: Shellac - Dude Incredible

RoundOnEndHiInMiddle
June 27th 2014


288 Comments


And to think that they were working on The Seer even then. Good review btw, pos.

Digging: Tiny Moving Parts - Pleasant Living

ExplosiveOranges
June 27th 2014


2592 Comments


Great review as always, BM. Pos'd hard.

Digging: YOB - Clearing The Path To Ascend

BMDrummer
June 27th 2014


7079 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Only one more Swans review to go, then all their essentials will have reviews

zakalwe
June 27th 2014


8050 Comments


Failure to compromise, inventiveness on your own terms, genuine fire, music that surprises are all traits the Swans have in spades and I lap up so why do I think their total shite?

BMDrummer
June 27th 2014


7079 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

They're not for everybody man, it's really easy to understand why someone would dislike them

zakalwe
June 27th 2014


8050 Comments


That new one is a fucking trial to sit through. Has it's moments though. I'm going to give this a go.

Relinquished
June 27th 2014


25018 Comments


8/10 compared to their other works kinda lenient

FruityCatOfDoom
June 28th 2014


2093 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good review, I'm not familiar with any of the other no-wave bands other than Sonic Youth. And this sort of reminds me of Sonic Youth.

TheBarber
June 28th 2014


1963 Comments


Sonic Youth is barely No-Wave tbh (apart from some of the ideas on their debut), Fruitydude try jamming some Teenage Jesus & The Jerks, D.N.A and James Chance & The Contortions, great noisy shit

Digging: Animal Collective - Centipede Hz

BMDrummer
June 28th 2014


7079 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Sonic Youth's debut Confusion is Sex is dreadfully underrated on this site imo

Judio!
Contributing Reviewer
July 6th 2014


5772 Comments


Album cover is 10/10

Digging: Moonsorrow - V: Havitetty

BMDrummer
July 6th 2014


7079 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Still don't know what it's supposed to be honestly



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: 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


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy