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Swans - Greed CD (album) cover

GREED

Swans

 

Post Rock/Math rock

3.45 | 31 ratings

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Dobermensch
Prog Reviewer
4 stars I guess something had to give considering the pulverising onslaught of the previous recordings.

'Greed' reveals a stripped down 'Swans' and is a highly negatively charged album. It doesn't have the masochistic pleasure of the previous 'Cop'. Michael Gira's deep and aggressive vocals do however, remain. Here he sounds like he has a cement mixer where his larynx should be.

There's no happy go lucky pub-knees-up to be heard anywhere in the vicinity of 'Swans' at the best of times and this is no exception. In fact this is probably their most miserable sounding album they released. The opener has the eye rubbing inclusion of a piano. The half speed guitar plays the same 4 chord guitar sequence as Floyd's 'In the Flesh' and it's a real downer, so if you're not keen on heavy negative emotions you're advised to steer well clear.

Jarboe makes her first appearance as a member of Swans on 'Nobody' - a self-hating dirge that has some wonderfully apocalyptic 'Gira' vocals at the 3 minute mark as some crunching, repetitive drums appear. Jarboe's contribution is relegated to some 'oohs and ahhs' in the background. This is Swans' anti capitalist, money is evil recording. The drums are particularly well mixed in 'Greed' and have a doom-laden echoey feel. There's a clever approach on this album where quiet pauses are used which add to the overall feel of imminent looming disaster.

Musically it's nothing special. Quite poor in fact. It's the emotion and atmosphere it creates that raises this album above the sum of its parts. I wasn't aware of Michael Gira's state of mind until hearing this album which was the most vocal orientated to this point. You therefore pay more attention to what he's bumping his gums about - and it's not good. Not good at all. Clearly his brain was full of broken bottles.

The stodgy lethargy evaporates with the entirely Industrial 'Money is Flesh'. This is a repetitive, thumping, drum based mantra where once again it's the intense baritone and dominant vocals that make the track shine.

The undoubted highlight is the superb 'Time is Money'. An upbeat but really violent track with some very disturbing imagery. It's best I don't dwell on this here. Lets just say that it's sexual in nature. This is probably my favourite 'Swans' track of all time and it's also their most evil moment. The drums are pounding, relentless and machine-gun like. It's also guitar free. 'Gira' sings like he's just flown his kite into an overhead electrical pylon where he spits venom and vitriol from the outset. This is as loud as War itself.

'Greed' and its successor 'Holy Money' are two peas in the same pod. This could easily have been a double album but that would have left even the most strong willed left thoroughly suicidal.

The musicians must have left these recording sessions bewildered and totally dejected. There's no fun to be had at all. Every sound and beat is used as a vehicle for Michael Gira's demented, tortured and unhappy mindset.

Dobermensch | 4/5 |

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