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Swans - Time Is Money (Bastard) CD (album) cover




Post Rock/Math rock

3.28 | 14 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
Special Collaborator
PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic

By 1986 SWANS was starting to evolve past its origins out of the no wave scene that briefly took New York City by storm and was splintering off into new arenas of experimentalism. While many of these groups would simply just fade away after leaving their mark, SWANS was one of the few to continue on to the present day by constantly reinventing itself without losing that initial impetus of making bleak noisy minimalism. One of the first significant changes emerged on this short EP (some call it a single) titled TIME IS MONEY (BASTARD) / SEALED IN SKIN.

This marked the debut of Jarboe who had left the swamps of Louisiana to engage in the world of experimental rock and stage music in New York City. She had been a fan of SWANS since the "Filth" album and contacted Michael Gira who recognized the band needed to move past its origins and evolve into something completely new. This EP / single features three tracks. TIME IS MONEY finds the band jumping into the world of industrial rock in the vein of Come, early Big Black and Alien Sex Fiend only SWANS retained the bleakness and dread of its no wave albums "Filth" and "Cop."

The second track SEALED IN SKIN features a slowed down return to the no wave form only less abrasive without the guitar distortion and grunge that made the first two albums so abrasive. This track finds Gira's vocals sound like a moaning mummy as he monotonously bellows baritone vocals alongside a monotonous dirge-like motif that offers little variation from in terms of musicality. The EP / single ends with a remix of TIME IS MONEY (BASTARD) which features a beefed up percussion and more echoey guitar presence. Not as industrial sounding as the first track but offers a glimpse of what Alien Sex Fiend would adopt as its sound once it evolved out of its deathrock routine.

At this point Jarboe's duties were limited to merely screaming on the album but it helped her establish a connection with the band that would allow her to expand her own musical talents and ideas into the world of SWANS. Of course this band, especially the earlier 80s releases are an acquired taste that many find too harsh, too monotonous or just too weird but personally i find the magic is in the hypnotic effect of the bleak tones and timbres, the mesmerizing rhythms and the simplistic procession of it all. It's an entirely different way of perceiving music but one that ultimately works to a satisfying level for my ears. Gira did an excellent job of nudging SWANS along into new arenas and not just jumping headfirst into a new style completely. These songs never appeared on any SWANS album so you have to hunt these down separately but i personally find these as essential as any of the earliest caustic SWANS releases.

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |


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