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Swans - Body to Body, Job to Job CD (album) cover

BODY TO BODY, JOB TO JOB

Swans

 

Post Rock/Math rock

3.95 | 2 ratings

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HolyMoly
Special Collaborator
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl and Canterbury Teams
4 stars This album functions as part live album, part outtakes compilation. Since it is now available only as part of a package deal with Swans' debut LP "Filth" (a 2 CD reissue on Young God Records, led by Swans leader M. Gira), there is a tendency to think of it as an afterthought, or at least secondary to the "proper" albums in the vast Swans discography. However, for me anyway, this album does a better job than any other of capturing the magic of the early Swans, and if "The Seer" is my clear favorite album from the "new" Swans, then this album is my clear favorite from the "old" Swans.

But how can Odds and Sods be better than Quadrophenia? It may be a purely personal thing for me, but this album is compiled in such a way that it knocks you on your behind and then proceeds to kick you in the stomach until you can't take it anymore, and then it kicks you some more until you're simply numb and don't care anymore. Swans studio albums from the same era at least have some sense of craft and pacing -- this album disregards any notion of pacing and offers highlight after highlight, each punishment more brutal than the last. Sounds like loads of fun, doesn't it?

Many of these tracks are alternate, re-named, or live versions of songs from the early albums Filth and Cop,. but almost without exception, the versions are more powerful and punishing, albeit more sloppy and with murkier sound quality. The opener "I'll Cry for You" is clearly a studio recording (and a great one), but most of the rest seems to be compiled from live shows. But it feels as if the most primal moments of a dozen different Swans shows were all documented in one place, making it a dream live album of sorts. I don't want to go track by track here, because I would just say the same thing about each track -- it's monotonous, horrific, grinding, so overdriven that the CD almost strains to capture the volume of sound. I've often described their sound as the sound of an electric guitar and bass being thrown against a brick wall. Lots of pounding, lots of screaming, the unfiltered rage of a man trying by brute force to understand this beautiful/ugly world we live in, by the only means he has left: spilling out his last remains of pure animal energy.

If you, like I, can find the beauty behind such musical strategies (and it is very tightly structured and composed, make no mistake), then the early Swans are for you. If my description repulses you, then you can turn back now, and I will have done my job.

HolyMoly | 4/5 |

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