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The Angels of Light

Prog Folk

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The Angels of Light How I Loved You album cover
4.59 | 10 ratings | 1 reviews | 20% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2001

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Evangeline (8:45)
2. Untitled Love Song (4:54)
3. My True Body (6:04)
4. Jennifer's Sorry (3:41)
5. Song for Nico (4:07)
6. New City in the Future (11:54)
7. My Suicide (5:41)
8. New York Girls (8:11)
9. Public Embarrassment Blues (4:46)
10. Two Women (11:48)

Total Time: 69:51

Line-up / Musicians

- Birgit Staudt / accordion, melodica, piano, synthesizer, backing vocals
- Siobhan Duffy / backing vocals, vocals (5)
- Bliss Blood / ukulele, saw, backing vocals, vocals (2)
- Dana Schechter / bass, piano, melodica, backing vocals
- Lawrence Mullins / drums, timpani, vibraphone, Farfisa organ, tambourine, castanets, glockenspiel, bells
- Thor Harris / hammered dulcimer, piano, backing vocals
- Christoph Hahn / guitar, lap steel guitar
- Kid Congo Powers / guitar (3, 8)
- Michael Gira / guitar, acoustic guitar, vocals, arrangements, producer

Releases information

CD Young God Records YG16US (2001 US)
2LP Important Records IMPREC067 (2005 US)
2LP Broken Sparrow BSR4046 (2005 US)

Thanks to clemofnazareth for the addition
and to The Bearded Bard for the last updates
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THE ANGELS OF LIGHT How I Loved You ratings distribution

(10 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(20%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(50%)
Good, but non-essential (20%)
Collectors/fans only (10%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

THE ANGELS OF LIGHT How I Loved You reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by TCat
FORUM & SITE ADMIN GROUP Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
5 stars When you hear the name Michael Gira, what is the first musical style that comes to mind? Chances are, it's probably not folk music. Yet, he spent almost a decade putting his dark style in a progressive folk band called "The Angels of Light". While his other band "Swans" was on hiatus, this is what he was spending his time doing. That in and of itself should be enough of an incentive to look into this band, yet they go pretty much unexplored in the archives.

So, for those that are interested in exploring this interesting combination of progressive folk and gothic styles, this is one of their best albums to start with. Released in 2001, this is the projects 2nd full length album. Gira utilizes several musicians in this band that play all sorts of folk-style instruments including acoustic guitars, piano, lap steel guitars, a hammered dulcimer, castanets, ukulele, saw, melodica, accordion, and so on. Sometimes these are used as you would traditionally expect, while at other times they create some surprising drones that stretch the western musical boundaries right into eastern musical traditions. To better feel what the music is like, imagine what it would sound like to have Ennio Morricone doing post-rock and shoegaze gothic music, and you would have an idea of how it all sounds. Dark, sinister and tense, but all with a folk sensibility.

"How I Loved You" is the name of the album which boasts 10 songs that range from 3 minutes up to almost 12 minutes in length. The music never gets to the level of the black sludgey sounds of the Swans early years, however once they started delving into the gothic/post-rock style is all carried over into this folk band. It all starts with the 8 minute "Evangeline" which has that unmistakable folk style following a basic post-rock formula, starting off light, but building and building upon repetitive passages. Halfway through, some wordless background vocals come in as the music becomes more intense. This is followed by "Untitled Love Song" which is more like an alternative folk song, lovely and wistful with Gira's deep vocals mixed in with a higher register female vocalist. Then, "My True Body" is more imposing, dark and gothic sounding making great use of Gira's deep vocals, almost like Johnny Cash, but with a grittier and more threatening tone to them. The earlier reference to Morricone is really evident in the shorter "Jennifer's Sorry" with dark lyrics set against the western gothic sound.

Also evident in this album are hints of psychedelic undertones, as in the track "Song for Nico", the influence of the namesake of the song is evident. The track is not quite as dark as the last two tracks, but it is light and mythical with hints at tensness as some minor chords are held a little longer than one would normally expect. "New City in the Future" takes it's time to develop with its length almost reaching 12 minutes. Eerie synths produce sustained chords and twinkling notes on the top end as a slow distant beat emulating a Native American drums come in the background introducing a mysterious sounding guitar. Vocals come in a droning fashion at first conjuring images of old abandoned wooden building creaking in the hot breeze blowing over a desert landscape. The instruments begin to drone along as he describes snapshots of bleakness and things almost become a shoegaze style, but with a country mentality. This song really approaches the chaotic tone and style of Swans as it nears the end and builds a surprisingly heavy intensity before finally backing off.

"My Suicide" is a simple country two-step creating by a strumming acoustic guitar and a cello effect. The lyrics are dark yet quite clear as more layers are created by additional instruments. "New York Girls" turns to a much softer tone even with the vocals becoming more understated. The instruments are also quite with the right touch of psychedelic tones behind it all reminding one of earlier Pink Floyd songs. There is a nice instrumental break where intensity builds and backs off again for the 3rd vers. There is a sudden clash of dissonance and heaviness that turns suddenly sinister with some chanting voices. "Public Embarassment Blues" is also a softer feeling track with a repeating 3/4 meter and the slide guitar crying in the background. "Two Women" closes it all off with another epic 12 minute track. Meandering guitars start it off but give way to a strumming acoustic guitar as Gira begins singing. In the end, it becomes another post-rock based composition that builds and wanes throughout.

This excellent album is a great example of the mixing of different styles that you wouldn't expect. There is no doubt the overall influence of folk music in the lyrics and instrumentation, but it is often built upon either post rock, gothic, psychedelic and droning styling. There might be a few other bands out there like Wovenhand or 16 Horsepower that create that dark, gothic folk sound, but none do it quite so well as this project. Of course, the return of Swans would eventually mean the demise of The Angels of Light, but at least Gira left us with enough albums to explore his experiments with the progressive folk genre. It would be a shame if people didn't at least try it out, but I have a feeling that there would be a lot more of fans won over to this project if they did.

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