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swans reform

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no jarboe? whats that all about? but this could still be interesting..


from the guardian-


Back from the dead: Why I welcome a Swans reunion


The fiercely independent, post-punk eardrum perforators are to reunite. But there's plenty of evidence that they are motivated by more than just a big pay cheque



Swans ... post-punk pioneers/police lineup volunteers. Photograph: Monica Dee


Asked in a 2006 interview if he would ever consider reforming Swans, the band he led from their birth in the flux of New York's early 1980s no-wave scene to their dissolution in 1997, Michael Gira was unequivocal. "Absolutely not, never," he announced, flatly. "Dead and gone. I have more interesting things to do."


Call it a change in heart or a gap in the diary, but – as a new note on the band's posthumously created MySpace page puts it – "SWANS ARE NOT DEAD". In a blog posted on Saturday, Gira announced a reformed band featuring members of classic Swans lineups including guitarist Norman Westberg as well as musicians from Gira's current backing band, Angels of Light. A new, as yet untitled album is currently in the works.


Swans, if you've not had the pleasure, were one of the most fearsome and challenging of the groups to emerge from America's post-punk underground – a band next to which even the mangled-guitar dissonance of their close contemporaries Sonic Youth sounded tame. Early releases such as 1983's Filth and their 1984 EP Young God took repetition, abrasion and punk aggression to new extremes. Gira, a former teenage drifter versed in the writing of Jean Genet and the Marquis De Sade, spoke of "wanting to make a sound that completely overwhelmed me, or the listener … that filled me with joy". Not all listeners heard the joy in Swans, though – early live shows were said to reach such a volume and intensity that concertgoers were known to lose their pre-gig dinner.


Like the Velvet Underground 15 years before them, Swans were an affront to almost everyone of decent sensibilities, and were also remarkably influential – most visibly as a blueprint for later US industrial artists such as Ministry and Nine Inch Nails. As with the Velvets, though, Swans were capable of subtlety and even prettiness. Later albums such as 1987's Children of God added acoustic guitar, flute and cello, plus smouldering vocals from gothic chanteuse Jarboe – one notable absentee from this new reformed lineup. This sparkling cover of Joy Division's Love Will Tear Us Apart proved Swans even had a pop side (although Gira was later scathing of the cover, dismissing it as "inept bubblegum music" – you be the judge).


It's easy to be cynical about the motives of solo musicians getting the old band back together, but there's plenty of evidence that this reformation is motivated for reasons other than a big pay cheque. Save for a brief period during which Swans were signed to a major label in the late 1980s, Gira has always stayed well clear of the mainstream music industry, going so far as setting up his own independent label, Young God Records to issue all his music.


Before the new Swans record proper, Gira intends to drum up some funds with I Am Not Insane – a hand-made package of new Swans songs played acoustically, plus two DVDs of live Gira music. A taster, Jim, is up now at the MySpace page, so if you like what you hear and fancy the chance of hearing Swans classics such as Time Is Money (Bastard) and Raping a Slave played live again, it's time to reach into your pocket and dig deep.



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