Monday, 8 November 2010



The world would be a crappy place if it were not for cranky old father figures giving us shit and demanding (not necessarily commanding) our respect.  I genuinely believe it is in human nature to enjoy being pushed about, to have somebody else pick up the ball and run with it for us while at the same time dragging our carcasses along with them.

Whatever Michael Gira says this is a fucking reformation.  Do not be wet or deluded.  So here he is now after a very credible solo calling.

Taking a shortcut I could be forgiven for saying that at a surface level this sounds like a cross between Iggy Pop and Lou Reed fronting an obtuse version of the Bad Seeds.  This is no doubt a description Gira would fucking hate.

The record opens with the near ten minute gesture of “No Words/No Thoughts”.  I guess the intention to offer something medative as slowly a sonic cathedral grows into a pulsing disarray designed to disarm and alarm, to pluck victims and reduce expectation to rubble.  So this is the flipside of Christian Rock.  And it is ugly.

As much as I despair at the posturing of Gira I can help but feel a strong affinity with the man for the mere fact he has a song entitled “You Fucking People Make Me Sick”.  Even if the song does not live up to the name it is a strong indication of what his and his audience’s mindset is like and the perspective of the world being expressed with the album.  Sure the song builds to weird horror movie theatrics but the intention is there.

And I guess therein lies the power.  When the sonics and the song writing collide it is a wonderful and powerful thing, especially on “My Birth” as the song thumps and swings as if sawing someone open in order to drag another soul into the universe.  With the trademark Swans repetition driving the motion all is pummelled.

There is something of a congregation feel to the vibe.  “Reeling The Liars In” sounds very much a preacher cleaning house prompting a person to question how much of this is spiel and how much is real.  Then the full on Bad Seeds vibe of “Jim” is all about taking a man to task, bringing him back in reductive fashion.  Very Thirlwell.  Where once was flight now is fight.

Over the course of eight songs a lot of ground is covered.  A steady pace maintains right up to the end as all remains slow and menacing with instruments screaming in resemblance of the lost souls being addressed.

With its brooding string section and massive march “Eden Prison” ensures the album culminates in destructive fashion bringing a blunt sensibility to the end of an existence.  Here is the grandest orchestra.  And with that the damaged croon of “Little Mouth” runs out like a set of David Lynch closing credits for some reason reminding me of being lifted up to space in a Chevrolet Malibu at the climax of Repo Man.

Ultimately this is a tough record, the uncomfortable listen that Gira and co designed and engineered.  Eventually it clicked with me but after too many listens.  I stuck with it and it grew on me.  It would like to say that it captivated me but it didn’t.  If you want an album that is going to make you work, here you go.

A deaf rattle.

Thesaurus moment: anathematize.

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