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Post Rock/Math rock • United States

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Swans biography
Founded in New York City, USA in 1982 - Disbanded in 1997 - Reformed in 2010

Part of the original No Wave scene in the early 1980's, the New York City rock band SWANS has since become one of the most respected experimental rock outfits to the present. Led by the visionary vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Michael GIRA, SWANS operated for nearly two decades from their inception in 1983, he is also well known producer. His daunting and impressive songwriting abilities created some of the strangest and revolutionary music to date. Influences of post-rock are seen in numerous records, notable in Soundtracks for the Blind, which predates a lot of the crescendo-core stuff, and the band has influenced numerous post-rock bands with their ever expanding sound and advanced technical approach to rock music. Although they broke up in 1997, SWANS reunited in 2010 to record two more albums, My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky and The Seer.

Bio written by The Truth (Tanner) and updated by zravkapt (Darryl)

SWANS Videos (YouTube and more)

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To Be KindTo Be Kind
The SeerThe Seer
Special Edition
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Soundtracks For The BlindSoundtracks For The Blind
Young God Records 2018
$17.35 (used)
The Glowing ManThe Glowing Man
$9.39 (used)
Filth * DeluxeFilth * Deluxe
$13.23 (used)
The Burning WorldThe Burning World
Water 2012
$21.34 (used)
White Light From The Mouth Of InfinityWhite Light From The Mouth Of Infinity
$25.21 (used)
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SWANS discography

Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help to complete the discography and add albums

SWANS top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.89 | 46 ratings
3.42 | 33 ratings
3.41 | 26 ratings
3.68 | 24 ratings
Holy Money
4.23 | 79 ratings
Children Of God
3.41 | 25 ratings
The Burning World
4.07 | 51 ratings
White Light From The Mouth Of Infinity
3.74 | 28 ratings
Love Of Life
3.54 | 43 ratings
The Great Annihilator
4.13 | 72 ratings
Soundtracks For The Blind
3.90 | 42 ratings
My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky
3.74 | 155 ratings
The Seer
3.93 | 185 ratings
To Be Kind
3.86 | 69 ratings
The Glowing Man

SWANS Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.38 | 13 ratings
Public Castration is a Good Idea
4.67 | 3 ratings
Feel Good Now
3.25 | 5 ratings
Anonymous Bodies in an Empty Room
5.00 | 2 ratings
Real Love
4.05 | 3 ratings
4.50 | 2 ratings
Kill the Child: 1985/1986/1987 Live
4.20 | 11 ratings
Swans Are Dead
4.22 | 9 ratings
We Rose From Your Bed with the Sun in Our Head
4.56 | 9 ratings
Not Here / Not Now
4.25 | 4 ratings
The Gate
3.67 | 3 ratings

SWANS Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

SWANS Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.05 | 4 ratings
Body to Body, Job to Job
4.20 | 5 ratings
Various Failures 1988-1992
5.00 | 1 ratings
Forever Burned

SWANS Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.93 | 9 ratings
2.95 | 9 ratings
Young God
3.13 | 4 ratings
A Screw
3.05 | 3 ratings
Time Is Money (Bastard)
4.04 | 8 ratings
Die Tür ist zu
5.00 | 2 ratings

SWANS Reviews

Showing last 10 reviews only
 Greed by SWANS album cover Studio Album, 1986
3.41 | 26 ratings

Swans Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Kempokid

4 stars After 2 LPs of pure aural assault, 'Swans' take a bit of a left turn with their 3rd album, 'Greed'. The sound is more involved and layered than before, no longer just having the goal of repeatedly battering the listener over the head with simple, abrasive beats and showing pure anger through each screamed note and hard hits against the drums. Rather than being simply angry and aggressive, this album becomes downright depressing, with Gira's vocals being much more desperate and defeated, and the songs droning without the same punch as could be found on 'Cop'. Despite this, it's made up for by the eerie atmosphere that each song contains, making effective use of short moments of silence, providing a powerful feeling of isolation.

'Fool' is a very clear, direct way of expressing the change in sound that the band goes through here, having no percussion, with nothing but slow echoey piano chords with the occasional moment of guitar. This is complemented by the bleak lyrics and monotone singing of Michael Gira. 'Anything For You' displays the use of silence in the album, with the beat not being a constant wall of sound, but being quite empty sounding, with clear gaps throughout where there's nothing but vocals, sometimes not even that much. 'Nobody' and 'Greed' both share many similarities, both use Jarboe's vocals less as actual vocals, but instead editing and looping them in order for them to simply become another instrument. This goes to the point that in 'Nobody', they genuinely sound similar to a harmonica, to the point where that's what I thought they were for the first 5 listens of this album. Out of these two, I definitely prefer 'Greed' having the vocals have a near ethereal quality to them that contrasts perfectly with the dissonant riffs, harsh beat, and extremely unpleasant tone that the song has. 'Stupid Child' is a slightly quieter song with quite memorable, almost hypnotic drumming, being much more in the industrial vein compared to most songs on the album. 'Heaven' shows one of the first instances of 'Swans'' incredible buildups and climaxes to their songs, starting off similarly to most of the songs here, before building up, having Gira sound more and more desperate as it progresses, with this desperation turning into anger, until the song ends up sounding like the mutterings of a madman, truly an incredible moment. The closing track is by far the most violent and definitely one of my favourites on the album, having a beat that is reminiscent of 'Filth' in terms of the way it feels as if you're getting attacked with each smash of the drum-kit. I love the addition of the synthesizers, as it really gives this song an interesting edge to it, further increasing the empty feeling this album creates by replacing an instrument played by a human (the guitar is mostly absent from this song) with something artificial.

The atmosphere present on this album marks a definite step forward in 'Swans', being quite experimental with their overall sound while also not deviating from it in an extreme way, still keeping a general sense of bleakness and heaviness to everything, with their industrial sound still strong, especially towards the end of the album. However, the songs do have a degree of variation in them, not all sticking to a single tone and style, instead giving some identity to each song, whether it's through crescendos, lack of percussion, or even synthesizers, providing a more varied listen. While I still personally prefer the raw aggression of their debut album, I definitely prefer this to 'Cop'. This is also probably a slightly easier entry point into the band, although nowhere is really a great one, both due to how consistently inaccessible their music is, and because of how rapidly their sound changes anyway.

Best Songs: Fool, Greed, Money Is Flesh

Weakest Songs: None

Verdict: A slightly more experimental Swans album that still has its roots in their industrial sound. Atmospheric and uncomfortable to listen to, but a must for those who really like extremely heavy industrial music or those who like dense atmosphere and tone, as this album will appeal quite a bit.

 Cop by SWANS album cover Studio Album, 1984
3.42 | 33 ratings

Swans Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Kempokid

3 stars Swans' second album is a very different beast from its predecessor, while still being extremely heavy, more so than 'Filth'. All of the pure fury present in 'Filth' has be taken away, and while it definitely keeps the no-wave sound, it is also extremely sludgy. Each note played is dragged out, the percussion being noisy and abrasive, and instruments screeching and the songs really dwelling on particular vocal lines, as was the case with 'Filth' as well. Even Michael Gira's vocals are nothing like what they were before, without any angered, aggressive screaming, instead with him drawling and groaning, further adding to the extremely strange, unpleasant, sometimes nauseating soundscape that this alum creates. However, despite how impressively heavy this album is, I honestly prefer 'Filth', as I find this album to honestly feel somewhat boring by the end, as every song sounds more or less the same, and while there are some better cuts such as 'Half Life' and 'Cop' which do stand out somewhat, in part due to the more memorable vocal lines giving something to latch onto, the majority of them are extremely interchangeable, and while on one hand, this keeps the album consistent, it also makes the album feel 5 times longer than it is. The bottom line is, while this album is extremely impressive in its own right, I personally do not enjoy listening to it that much. Despite this, I definitely can see the merit here, with such crushingly heavy music expertly creating a soundscape that simply drags you into the music. While 'Filth' was repeatedly bashing you over the head, 'Cop' instead takes another approach, burying you under the layers of noise instead.

Best Songs: Half Life, Cop

Weakest Songs: Clay Man

Verdict: Heavier than their debut album, with a sludgier sound and some extremely immersive soundscapes. I'd recommend it to anyone who likes this sort of heaviness, but otherwise would advise that you give this one a miss, as you'll find nothing of interest here.

 Filth by SWANS album cover Studio Album, 1983
3.89 | 46 ratings

Swans Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Kempokid

4 stars The title says all. This album is just extremely disgusting sounding in many ways, ranging from the harsh industrial beats, to the deranged, aggressive screaming of Michael Gira. Each song here is filled with such visceral rage that while being somewhat uncomfortable to listen to, manages to end up sounding pretty great.

The songs are very repetitive, focusing on a couple of rhythmic patterns with constant, pumping, noisy drums, while simple phrases such as "flex your muscles" are repeated ad nauseum. The songs all have a similar, intense, off-putting nature to them, some, such as 'Big Strong Boss' being downright terrifying with high pitched screeches and a feeling that something is hunting you down, feeling as if you're being chased by some unknown force. As a whole, the album is incredibly cohesive and unified in sound and tone all the way through, each track being downright ugly, straightforward, repetitive and downright amazing for how unsettling and violent it gets.

I can't really talk too much about individual tracks here, as they all share extremely similar attributes, and are very similar quality-wise. Tracks that are the exception to this are 'Stay Here' and 'Big Strong Boss', which each are highly memorable. 'Stay Here's' hook is the one that will always get stuck in my head, the yelling of "flex your muscles" as a heavy, industrial groove blares is something that I doubt I'll forget at any point soon. 'Big Strong Boss' follows this by picking up the pace and heavily utilising high pitched noise.

This is unrelentingly heavy all the way through, providing no respite at all throughout its relatively short run-time, making every second of this just further aural bombardment, which while initially quite unlistenable, grows on you and ends up becoming an incredible experience. This is not an easy album to listen to by any means, but it is one that if you can deal with an obscene amount of noise and dissonance, I highly recommend for an extremely visceral experience. While I can't rate this perfectly, due to the fact that it never reaches a high enough point to warrant that, it's a damn great album nonetheless.

Best Songs: Stay Here, Big Strong Boss, Weakling

Weakest Songs: none

Verdict: Extremely difficult listen, but an overall rewarding one. Highly recommended for anyone who can deal with a lot of noise.

 White Light From The Mouth Of Infinity by SWANS album cover Studio Album, 1991
4.07 | 51 ratings

White Light From The Mouth Of Infinity
Swans Post Rock/Math rock

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

4 stars By this album, the Swans have made the complete shift from that dark, heavy and muddy sludge rock to a more gothic prog rock. I add the word prog in there because the music is a step above the typical goth rock, it is well produced, but with some elements of surprise added in. They have not yet arrived to being a full on Post Rock band yet, but you can hear that the transition is coming.

As far as Goth Rock goes, I am not a huge fan of it except for some occasional songs. I do love this album however, because it is so well done, so atmospheric, and it still has plenty of variety throughout it's tracks. Michael Gira's vocals are more melodic now and he has actually become a decent singer utilizing dynamics. Jerboe has also become a bigger contributor to the music. She balances out Gira's deep and occasionally rough vocals, and you can hear her sing more background when she is not doing the occasional lead vocals. She is also in charge of orchestral and choral arrangements and contributing keyboards.

The percussion is powerful on this album, and is not at all pushed to that background as is the case with many goth-rock bands. Dynamics are used better than ever before. And each track has it's own personality. There is darkness, but there is also light. There is heaviness, but there is also softness. There is also a lot of supporting musicians on this album, which helps immensely with the overall sound on each track. Yes, things have changed in a big way for this amazing band.

The album starts out with 'Better than You' and 'Power and Sacrifice'. Both of these are quite upbeat with Gira singing lead and Jerboe evening things out in the background. They are both songs that are heavy in percussion and tone, yet not heavy in a hard rock kind of way, but more of a scary, dark, almost vampiric way. Next, 'You Know Nothing' is quite a bit more quieter, with a nice use of dynamics through the track. This is where things are more emotional and rise above the typical Goth sound. After this, Jerboe takes the lead with her beautiful breathy vocals on the surprisingly beautiful and lush 'Song for a Dead Time'. On this song, I can really hear the balance she gives to the overall sound.

'Will We Survive' has a prog introduction that gives us a foreshadowing of what the future of Swans will be when the go into full progressive mode in a few years. This is a nice dramatic and majestic song, with the instrumentals driving the song forward. At the last part of the song, brightness comes in to the almost Celtic march feel in the form of chimes. This is a nice surprise since previous Swans albums tended to be quite dark all the way through, even during the early transition stage. 'Love Will Save You' on the other hand, sounds more like music from a spaghetti western. You can close your eyes and almost picture The Man With No Name (Clint Eastwood) riding into town to this music, and his character now has a name'.love? Not really the name I expected, but you can believe it during this song.

'Failure' is a weaker track that loses it's believability as Gira uses spoken word in place of a melody for the most part, and it's almost embarrassingly funny. You would think he would have the voice for this style, but it doesn't work for him on this track. It's more pathetic than it is atmospheric especially with the sparseness of the instrumentation on the track. 'Song for the Sun' has a sort of 50-60s vibe, but more in the 'Leader of the Pack' style than the 'California Girls' style. Even with the break in the middle where things slow down for a while, this song drags on a little too long, even if it's only 5 minutes long.

There is a return to form and fineness on the lush and orchestral 'Miracle of Love'. Halfway through, the peacefulness of the track suddenly changes to a very progressive and exciting instrumental. This one gives you a good indication as to where the Swans' music is going on later albums. Excellent track. If there were more tracks like this on this album, it would have easily been a 5 star album. Jerboe takes the lead vocals on the cinematic 'When She Breaths', and once again her vocals are soft and breathy, but this time with more range.

'Why Are We Alive' has a long instrumental introduction and then tries to be atmospheric and pensive, but misses the mark. 'The Most Unfortunate Lie' utilizes a 6/4 meter to end the album. Again, Gira tries spoken word, but succeeds this time because it is mixed with melody later on. This time it is more effective and is a great way to end an emotional album.

For the most part, this album has a lot of successes, but there are some weak tracks too that tend to bring it down. Fortunately, the strengths far outweigh the weaknesses, making this an excellent album. If you don't mind Gira's deep vocals, you will love the musicianship and songwriting overall. But his vocals fit with the style of music quite well, and they are easy to adjust to because of that. Plus you have Jerboe providing softer vocals that even everything out. This album truly feels like the light at the end of a dark tunnel, and it is amazing to hear the transition of the band.

 Anonymous Bodies in an Empty Room by SWANS album cover Live, 1990
3.25 | 5 ratings

Anonymous Bodies in an Empty Room
Swans Post Rock/Math rock

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This is a live Swans album that was recorded in various places during their Burning World tour. This was a critical time in Swans history as they were in the middle of changing their sound. They were moving from their older, sludgy sound which was thick, loud, and heavy, to a more progressive sound with a lot more variation in their music. The material they were putting out during this phase was a world apart from their previous sound and they were making huge steps forward in their music. By the time of this release, the public was aware that this was going to be the music the band was going to be making and there would be no return to the old depressing music of the past.

This recording is a good document of where the band was at the time. The album has a good selection that represents the sound of that time. The vocals from Gira are more discernible but as always, they are a little rough. He sings more in the style of Joy Division, but with music that is more varied and heavier. His voice takes a little getting used to. Jarboe however, sings more like Lisa Gerard from Dead Can Dance, just not as polished yet relying more on music inspired from world music sounds. The crowd noises are not very loud on the album, but the overall recording sounds somewhat tinny and, although listenable, not very well mixed. There are high points, but not enough to get real excited about.

The music on this live recording is still rough, but more accessible than the earlier stuff. There are quite a few musicians involved now also, as was the case with The Burning World album. The bad thing is the sound is not always the best as it is in their more current albums, and the music isn't as developed as it will come. It sounds more post-punk with shades of progressiveness, especially in the post rock style, which is representative of the music they did then. As most Swans fans know, their music will become more of a Heavy Prog style, which is their current sound, with complex songs, and still adding in elements of post and math rock.

For this live album, the sound is exactly as I mentioned before, with a leaning heavily towards Joy Division and shades of Dead Can Dance especially when Jarboe takes lead vocals, only a total of two times on this recording. Things are still dark when she sings though, just not as heavy. For those interested in how a band develops and progresses, this is a good example of a band in flux. This is definitely not essential and can't really be considered excellent either. It is good however, definitely better than most of what came in the band previous stage but far from the excellent band they would become.

 The Seer by SWANS album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.74 | 155 ratings

The Seer
Swans Post Rock/Math rock

Review by ProgShine
Collaborator Errors & Omissions Team

1 stars In my opinion music can go wherever it wants and can have the form that the musicians choose. There are no rules. However, there are rules for me!

There are many, many listeners who follow certain publications/sites and take pride in being 'different', and they end up in an alternative world, along with several other listeners. At the end of the day all we have is a legion of alternative listeners who hear and worship the same things, not so alternative in the end...

Well, why this text 'nothing to do with anything' at the beginning of this review? Because to me Swans has always been in this category: music for people that is alternative, but it is not. Who wants to make strange and different music just for the simple fact of wanting to be different. Period.

That's what The Seer showed me.

I tried to listen to the record without preconceptions, maybe there was a good record to be discovered (finally) by me. No. Deception.

Songs that are long simply 'because yes', not because there is a purpose. Songs that come out of nowhere and get nowhere (The Seer, the song, being the perfect example of my statement). And at the end of the record we get this question in our minds: what's the purpose of this record, whyit exists?

The discography of the band is all full of hype and the alternative ones love to adore the band. Oh, and they are influence to many other modern and equally cool new bands that also fills us with the same emptiness of The Seer.

I wonder if The Seer was recorded without the pretension, without all the cool vibe around it, without the intention of being 'cool'. I imagine it would have been a good record, because there are several good moments that are simply destroyed by the pretension.

 Young God by SWANS album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1984
2.95 | 9 ratings

Young God
Swans Post Rock/Math rock

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars SWANS emerged in the short-lived New York City no wave noise rock scene with their debut album "Filth" and earlier eponymous EP but in 1984 they not only released their second album "Cop" but also an extended play (EP) that didn't really have a title at the time. It consisted of only four tracks and has been referred to "Raping A Slave" and "I Crawled" (both album tracks) but is officially referred as YOUNG GOD which is the title of the longest track, therefore it has pretty much gone down in history under that title. The fourth unfortunate track that it hasn't been named after is "This Is Mine." Once again SWANS dishes out a strange concoction of punk infused energy, metal tones and timbres all parading in a drone drenched stripped-down minimalism and avant-garde outrage.

Following in the bleakness and brutal nature of the "Cop" album, YOUNG GOD takes the stylistic approach to even more extreme measures offering a glimpse into the mind of the serial killer Ed Gein. The EP takes the no wave, no frills droning percussive march into even more bombastic territories as it even utilizes a chain against a metal table offering a bleaker industrial feel than "Cop" ever dared explore. Likewise, the tempos are even slower and it genuinely sounds as if the sounds that emerge evoke the darkest, most abstract and utterly violent musical offerings possible with an abrasive surreal minimalistic barbarity unlike anything ever conceived.

YOUNG GOD contains only a mere four tracks that don't even add up to the half hour mark but in their wake leaves a barrage of emotionally bereft hypnotic parades of industrial bleakness and surreal surrender of everything familiar in musical trends of the day. Melodies are replaced by jagged torturous textures of jarring guitar distortion, arhythmic percussive drives that churn along like heart palpitations and the bleakest sewer rat perspective of sado-masochistic sonic torture sessions that incorporate downtuned dread with utter hopelessness.

While the overall effect is equivalent to "Cop," YOUNG GODS is even more surreal and hypnotic as the guitar parts are more uniform whereas the Michael Gira's vocals are much more emphatic and take on a more diverse repertoire of tortured prowess. The main effect of YOUNG GOD is one of disbelief as the grimy filth of the guitar and bass distortion churn along with the atypically timed rhythmic flow of the percussion. This one has been cited as a major influence to bands like Nirvana, Neurosis and Godflesh. The Swiss band The Young Gods even named themselves after it. This is about as subversively sinister as music can get before it totally becomes irregular formless noise.

This is the last bout with sheer musical bleakness for SWANS. After YOUNG GODS they would incorporate Jarboe into the band and her influence would forever change the band's course into more diverse arenas. While the EP was never officially released beyond the initial vinyl pressings, the four tracks that appeared on it can easily be found on modern compilations of the early works. YOUNG GODS takes the unique musical lexicon that SWANS crafted in their earlier years and fleshes out only the bleakest possibilities. So intense is this stuff that more than four tracks of it and it may have caused death. Include this on the "scariest tracks of all time" list.

 Cop by SWANS album cover Studio Album, 1984
3.42 | 33 ratings

Swans Post Rock/Math rock

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars While many will claim that the 80s were one of the worst decades for music but i must disagree wholeheartedly since some of the most original thinking musical entities emerged from this period. On the aggressive side of the musical equation, the punk and metal that had been gaining steam in the late 70s and early 80s really took off during this period. While punk and post-punk had splintered into a gazillion subgenera, metal on the other hand was only starting to see the potential of different styles emerging from the hard rock that had developed it a decade before. Out of all this craziness came SWANS whose unique style to this day is unclassifiable as they exist in their own musical universe but was even more the case in their beginning days. This NYC band led by Michael Gira existed in a strange gray area between punk and metal although they were technically part of the short-lived no wave noise rock movement.

Their debut album "Filth" set the tone for their abrasive unrelenting assault on melody with undulating waves of distorted noise grinding in a jarring rhythmical fashion like a thousand jackhammers pounding the city streets in unison and only slightly deviating from each other until a true cacophonous din results. On their second album COP, the band of four continues this aggressive assault and takes it even further with even heavier bombastic drum and bass beats accompanied by screeching downtuned and dissonant guitar riffs along with Gira's tortured soul vocalizations that preceded the world of black and death metal by several years. It's no wonder that early SWANS have been cited as one of the major influences for the heavy down and dirty approach of sludge metal because the thick guitar riffs that buzz to infinity create one of the loudest albums of the early 80s as if the band recorded this in a deep industrial bunker in the darkest recesses of the cockroach filled underbellies of a post-apocalyptic world.

While many comparisons have been made with doom metal and i can honestly see those connections, i find COP is more of a unique fusion of snarling punk attitudinal posturing with heavily cranked up adrenaline inducing distortion from the guitar and bass akin to the early extreme metal of Venom and Hellhammer with a bombastic drone-like march of a souless percussive drive that hypnotizes by sheer brutal force. Part of the allure is the ambiguousness of the subject matter at hand with lyrics flirting with scenes of sexual domination in unseen corners in dimly lit dungeons. The tempo on COP is much slower than "Filth" which adds a sense of valium laden dread to the abrasiveness of the fuzzed out guitar tones grinding the eardrums into audio submission like the morbidly obese woman on the cover depicts in utter despair. COP took the art of ugliness to perfect heights as the holy trinity of audio, visual and emotional impact impaled the listener from all angles.

COP is almost universally deemed SWANS' most brutal album and i doubt anyone could disagree once encountering this seductively repulsive sonic terror. If the guitar dissonance and vocal anguish wasn't enough, the drum and bass experience a hypnotic repertoire that is jagged with off-kilter time signatures that succeed in disrupting melodic flow in every way possible. Both "Filth" and "Cop" as well as the two EPs of the same era are cited as a major influence on bands like Godflesh, The Young Gods and the 90s sludge gods Neurosis with an almost tribal rhythmic drive gone horribly wrong into arhythmic sado-masochistic sonic torture sessions. This is not one for the faint-hearted by any means. After this album, Gira would incorporate the feminine charm of Jarboe to the band's sound which would change the band's style and sound drastically. However on COP, these guys pumped out one of the most monstrous and tenebrous death marches of all the early 80s. While bleak, this stuff is morbidly beautiful in its own way as it creates its own musical lexicon.

 The Seer by SWANS album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.74 | 155 ratings

The Seer
Swans Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Well I'm slowly getting through SWANS discography and so far I'd say "Soundtracks For The Blind" is my favourite, and I do Like "To Be Kind" better than "The Seer" for what it's worth. "The Seer" is a double album with 2 hours worth of music for our listening pleasure(haha). Yes as usual this is long, repetitive and experimental, and while I don't love it I almost always seem to come away very impressed with Gira's final product. A ton of guests helps out here which is surprising to me as there doesn't seem to be that many instruments in play but apparently I'm wrong.

Disc one starts with "Lunacy" as we get this repetitive guitar melody and keys I think as the atmosphere rolls in. Vocal expressions too before it kicks into a heavy groove. Vocals and a more stripped down sound 2 1/2 minutes in and this will continue until it turns more powerful a minute later. A calm before 4 1/2 minutes and relaxed vocals will also join in.

"Mother Of The World" has this repetitive mechanical rhythm that goes on and on. Organ joins in before 2 1/2 minutes. Some vocals a minute later and then it all stops 4 1/2 minutes in as a powerful sound kicks in with male vocals. It's slowing down at 5 1/2 minutes and then it seems to actually get brighter before 6 1/2 minutes. "The Wolf" is a short one with slow drawn out vocals that pretty much speak the words. The atmosphere before a minute is really cool.

"The Seer" is the long one at over 32 minutes. Yikes! It sounds like bag pipes amongst all that atmosphere that seems to hum and hover. It starts to wind down around 2 1/2 minutes and soon we get a beat with what sounds like banjo and atmosphere. Hints of power come and go as this plays out. Vocals arrive as it builds with some active drum work. Later it's building before 11 minutes until we get chaos a minute later. It then starts to slow down as we get repetitive outbursts of power that come and go. They stop around 22 minutes as it stays powerful and atmospheric. It then starts to calm down with some harmonica. A beat and more arrives around 28 minutes and vocals follow. It's more powerful after 30 minutes.

"The Seer Returns" has this rhythm that seems to go in circles here. It turns powerful rather quickly and we get male spoken words after 1 1/2 minutes. Soon he's singing but in a relaxed manner. It's louder later on, catchy stuff. "93 Ave. B Blues" is the most experimental track on here, very avant. We get those sounds that cry out from the start to the point of screeching. A dark atmosphere comes and goes along with vocal expressions. It turns explosive after 4 minutes until 5 minutes in. "The Daughter Brings The Water" ends disc one and it's mainly a guitar melody with Gira singing.

Disc two starts with "Song For A Warrior" and we get this relaxed sound with guitar, piano and atmosphere as reserved female vocals join in. There's a brief instrumental break as well. "Avatar" opens with a sample of something I can't recognize as bells and drums join in. Sounds like sleigh bells. The beats are getting louder along with the atmosphere after 3 minutes but then it settles back a minute later. Male vocals before 5 minutes. It kicks in hard before 8 minutes and the tempo picks up as well.

"A Piece Of The Sky" might be my favourite. The sound reminds me of a very large fire that crackles away and from the title of this song it may have been caused by lightning or something else. Vocal melodies just before 2 minutes replace the fire. Soon it's atmosphere only humming and hovering over the soundscape. Vocals after 6 1/2 minutes before it all turns quite noisy. A heavy rhythm takes over before 10 minutes and continues until before 15 minutes when it settles down with a relaxed beat and picked guitar. Male vocals after 15 1/2 minutes as the relaxed sound continues to the end.

"The Apostate" ends it in an apocalyptic manner. It almost sounds like sirens going off over and over as we get this disturbing mood. Explosive sounds after 6 minutes. Absolute insanity during this long section. The tempo picks up before 9 minutes. It seems to be settling back some 12 1/2 minutes in then a repetitive beat that's catchy kicks in a minute later. Vocals a minute after that. Grating sounds before 19 minutes then suddenly 22 minutes in we get a barrage of loud drums and yells to end it.

I just get so intrigued with how experimental the SWANS can be with all those samples thrown in too. It's innovative music but certainly not for everybody. I'm sure some think it's all trash but despite my enjoyment factor not being as high as I'd like this is a 4 star album in my world.

 Omniscience by SWANS album cover Live, 1992
4.05 | 3 ratings

Swans Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The most melodic and accessible phase of Swans' discography came to a close with Omniscience, and whilst White Light From the Mouth of Infinity and Love of Life have seen recent reissues it seems like Omniscience must stay out in the cold a little longer. That's a shame, because whilst I wouldn't call it essential Swans, it's an intriguing live journey into a musical realm that is suggested in part by those studio albums and the Burning World, and in part by the various Skin/World of Skin side project albums, ant yet not quite reached by any of them - a piece of the puzzle which stands by itself and has its own contribution to make.
Thanks to angelmk for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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