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3.9 out of 5 stars
My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on September 26, 2010
Format: Audio CD
SWANS are back and as singer M. Gira has noted several times "THIS IS NOT A REUNION. It's not some dumb-@$$ nostalgia act. It is not ...repeating the past."

This is yet another evolution in SWANS music and they have had many over the years. Defying musical conventions, including their own, is what has always made them great. They are not for the casual listener nor are they Top 40.

While many of the band members and contributors are back, Jarboe is absent as another reviewer noted (she does have her own solo career now and she was absent for many years during the band's foundation), however, the material doesn't suffer because of this. The new album is exactly what I expected while still surprising me at the same time. "Eden Prison" is the immediate stand-out track for me, but others are quickly growing on me to be my favorite. If you have been a fan of SWANS, Body Lovers, Angels of Light and Gira's solo works, then you will not be disappointed. Hands down the best CD I have bought this year!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
HALL OF FAMEon September 27, 2010
Format: Audio CD
The return of Swans brings a new sound with echoes of the old and of Angels of Light. Five of the eight tracks exceed 5 minutes, making this an album of mostly epic pieces with complex tempo variation and shifting textures around that wall of sound which oscillates between jangles and drones. The exceptions, Reeling The Liars In, My Birth and Little Mouth stand out in their own ways.

To me the most impressive are the 9+ minute No Words/No Thoughts and the one in the middle, You Intercoursing People Make Me Sick. The first opens with glockenspiel/chimes before setting off on a winding road in a barrage of layered guitars and shifting rhythms, whilst a didgeridoo introduces the second of which the first part juxtaposes the voice of a guest vocalist with that of a little girl to eerie effect, somewhat like Identity on Love Of Life. Then the metal/industrial sounds burst forth with great ferocity.

Jim and My Birth come closest to mainstream hard rock. A mid tempo number, Jim gets the Swans stamp through its wild percussion, drones, odd noises and quiet moments inbetween. A dulcimer lends the feel to the dissonant My Birth. I would say Eden Prison with its churning cascades and jungle drums resemble most the sound of Great Annihilator and Inside Madeline brings to mind both the orchestral majesty of White Light From The Mouth Of Infinity & The Burning World as well as the drones of Soundtracks for the Blind.

The acerbic lyrics of the acoustic Reeling The Liars In more than compensate for its softer sonics, being closer kin to a song like Blind on Gira's Drainland or to the styles explored by Angels of Light. My Father concludes with Little Mouth, a track made special by the chanting of what sounds like massed choirs.

The themes explore the extremes as always whether expressed by fierce electrical storms characterized by jarring textures or just by voice and acoustic flavors as perfected way back by World of Skin. Gira fans whose favorite albums include Great Annihilator and the early 1990s masterpieces White Light and Love Of Love will be happiest with this powerful album.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon September 25, 2010
Format: Audio CD
The temptation to this give this album by Swans a five star review solely on the basis of its splendid title is almost irresistible but steady as we go. Whatever the case it is a welcome return for band that has courted its fair share of controversy in its time and with its leader Michael Gira making intensely radical music stemming from New York's fabled no-wave art-rock scene particularly in the 1990s.

"My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky" is the bands first album since 1997 and it is in part sonic, beautiful, strange, avant garde and downright weird. Previous fans may regret the absence of the experimental vocalist Jarboe La Salle Devereaux but the music speaks for it self and overall it has a good tale to tell. The near 10 minute opener `No Words/No Thoughts' starts off proceedings with bells ringing and develops into a big noize anthem not heard this side of a Lift to Experience or Explosions in the Sky album

"Reeling the liars in" alternatively is a gentle rolling blues ballad with echoes of the Bad Seeds which you actually find yourself singing along to. "You fffing people make me sick" starts slowly with what sounds like a Jews Harp and then turns into a vocal between Devendra Banhart and the lovely voice of Gira's three-year-old daughter underpinned by jangly guitars. That is until around 3.10 minutes when it sounds like someone has decided to move a piano downstairs and they have recorded it until all sorts of noises last heard on "Dark side of the moon" creep in. It is strangely compelling and the albums highlight. Others like "Eden Prison" are much more abrasive straight forward rockers which again transform halfway in into a rhythmic dirge before building to cacophonous conclusion before Gira vocal returns. "Jim" is a wonderful builder which has initially has a Doors feel but ends up like a Certain Ratio. The best Gira vocal is to be located here and it is an intensely powerful song.

While "My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky" feels like an uncompromising album repeated listens suggest that there is enough in here to satisfy anyone with a taste for more than just a riff fest and especially the curious rock fan with a penchant for experimentation. It does stay largely clear of the sort of heavy industrial monotony that characterised early Swans albums. A recent music review described it as symphonic complexity and the label is truly a good fit since it is an album that is approachable and bearing in mind Gira's well over a decade "mothballing" of this band the results are remarkable.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 19, 2011
Format: Audio CD
Or maybe, welcome forward... because it's not really the same band that split in the 90s, but the same vision, same ooomph. That's good because I can't stand the reunion concept. You're only as good as your latest work, and this work works for me. Music's very different, but hits the same nerve. Four stars because it's damn good. Six stars, at least, for a good live show, like the one I took my brother to (he'd never heard the band before and doesn't collect a lot of this kind of music), where they played for over two hours, in and out of atmosphere and pounding, so loud the sound blew your hair back, and my brother said "why doesn't every musician do something this good?" See them live, whenever you get the chance. You won't regret it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
After something like a dozen studio albums and about that many years, Michael Gira returns with
a new Swans album that the press calls "...cataclysmic, pastoral, monotonal, bone-crushing,
dissonant, joyful, monstrous..." and more. Gira can be the bringer of a gigantic, enveloping
darkness, with all the mayhem and intense dept of terror that indicates; or he can caress with a
portentous paw, strumming chant-like tales of alluringly apocalyptic folk mysticism. Here, he does
both, with a savvy sense of theatrical power and style. The band includes previous members of
Swans + Angels Of Light & Shearwater. Guest spots by Devendra Banhart, members of R.E.M.,
Mercury Rev, Beat Circus....from New York.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 16, 2010
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
I'm a long time Swans fan and am very pleased with this new record. It's more raw and direct, even bluesy, than what the band was doing in the late 90's, but not really similar to Angels of Light either. There's a good balance of songwriting and sound/groove focused tracks, and Gira's vocals are as strong as ever. As good as it is, something is missing and I'm not really sure that it's Jarboe. Layered noises and sampling are kept to a minimum, focusing instead on the live instruments. My Father... is sparse and lethargic, reminding me at times of Junior Kimbrough. I miss the dense, frantic atmosphere of even the quieter moments of the older records, but this is really good stuff. Keep it coming.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 17, 2011
Format: VinylVerified Purchase
I am so blown away by this album!!! Just incredible. This album represents perfect darkness and its beauty and complexity. It does so with the throbbing rise and fall of Micheal Gira's bass lines. Several times on the album I feel as if I am being punished by the exceptionally heavy riffs but am perpetually drawn into their darkness. Once again Gira has proven how heavy raw instrumentation can be. If you like dark heavy music and you don't own this album, you are making a mistake!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 28, 2013
Format: Audio CD
I have never been a huge Swans fan. Their albums both fascinate and bore: they are consistently inconsistent. Magnificent, droning, piledriving rock is interrupted by ditties strikingly reminiscent of early Lou Reed that just don't fit. Wisely, they are fairly short and few here, hence this album's flaws can be overlooked. This is likely the most consistently good Swans album. The Seer might be even better, but there is also a lot more filler.
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on May 25, 2014
Format: MP3 MusicVerified Purchase
A perfect warmup to The Seer...and now that To Be Kind is out, it's easy to hear how all three together form a massive musical movement that meditates & resonates the listener into deep musical introspection
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on May 18, 2014
Format: Audio CD
I have been a Gira fan since the late 80s and early 90s World of Skin and Swans projects which I discovered in the early 1990s. When the Swans broke up, I was saddened but I followed Gira's work with Young God records and his solo project, The Angels of Light, as well as Jarboe's solo work. The Angels of Light helped Gira grow in more complicated story-telling in his music as well as texturing complicated moods in both the sound and the lyrics. The last two Angels of Light albums were slowly moving into The Swans tonal landscape again. This seems like both a continuation and a break from that move. It does seem like primarily a Gira album as this incarnation of the Swans does not have Jarboe's influence, yet this is very moving and interesting work. I feel like it is a little uneven, although it begins and ends strongly, starting with the epic No Words/No Thoughts with ends in bangs and ending with "Little Mouth" which strangles itself in drones and whimpers. Powerful, but the influence of the dark semi-folk music Gira made during most of the 2000s is here, particularly on sounds like "Reeling the Lair's In." Still, even though I feel this is uneven for a Swans album, it is still one of the best albums of 2010.
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