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My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky

4.1 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

After years of pursuing Angels of Light and recording and producing a diverse roster of artists for his Young God label, Michael Gira has reconvened his legendary group Swans. As he says: "This is not a reunion. It's not some dumb-ass nostalgia act. It is not repeating the past. After five Angels of Light albums, I need a way to move forward, in a new direction, and it just so happens that revivifying the idea of Swans allows me to do that." This highly anticipated album is as powerful and diverse as anything Gira's ever done, in Swans or otherwise. It opens with the epic, soul-crushing "No Words / No Thoughts," but quickly veers to more pastoral terrain, and on to ever-ascending monotonal grooves. A filmic-folk idyll featuring Devendra Banhart on lead vocal abruptly shifts to cataclysm, and is followed by more airplane-taking-off ascensions, art songs and lethal sonic pummeling. In short, this is the new Swans album, a significant advance from where they left off and as challenging and emotionally demanding as ever.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 1, 2016)
  • Original Release Date: April 1, 2016
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: YOUNG GOD
  • ASIN: B003X43GGU
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #98,326 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Scott Hardwick 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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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.
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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.
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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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