Dusted Reviews

Swans - We Rose From Your Bed With the Sun in Our Head

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Swans

Album: We Rose From Your Bed With the Sun in Our Head

Label: Young God

Review date: Jun. 26, 2012

Michael Gira’s reconstitution of Swans was one of the more welcome comeback stories of 2010. And much like the studio album that precedes it, We Rose From Your Bed With the Sun in Our Head, presents an overview of Swans’ long and storied career — from the sewer-charging industrial scrape of their early output to the sprawling, orchestrated arrangements first explored in earnest on White Light from the Mouth of Infinity.

The 17-minute intro out of which coalesces a churning treatment of “No Words/No Thoughts” surely must have tested the patience (and eardrums) of the audience. Gira and cohorts maintain a meditative fixation on their attack of a single, sustaining chord, syncopated with the apocalyptic battery of drummer Phil Puleo and percussionist Thor Harris, the latter of whose heavy hands on the concert chimes sound more sinister than symphonic. The prior record’s “Jim,” with its weird skipping-record rhythm, finds the band working the dynamic gamut from a dark and twangy two-step to a volcanic roar, then back again. “Beautiful Child,” recapped from 1986’s Children of God picks up after an extended, minor-keyed intro reminiscent of the ’90s Swans, its hammering rhythm and cacophony of discordant guitar broken only by the familiar martial snare rolls of the original. Gira’s hoarseness by this point only makes for an even more threatening experience; it must have been downright oppressive in the live setting. Another new track, “The Apostate,” likewise uncoils to life after a patience-testing intro. But its cyclical dance rhythm, divided among all of the instruments in round, suggests an exciting new path even as it recalls some of Swans’ earliest work. Also in his ’80s style, Gira yelps along in a desperate, free-associative fashion. A pair of reworked older tunes round out the first disc: “Yr Property” from Cop, drapes dreamy, vibraphone ambience over the barely evident mechanized framework of the original, and the plodding, seasick-riffed “Sex, God, Sex” from Children of God lets up only for an unaccompanied (and pretty unsettling) altar-call from Gira.

Disc two opens with “The Seer,” the title track of the band’s upcoming and 12th studio album. It’s another exercise in repetition, broken up with catfights of noise guitar and lap-steel skree set to a backdrop of droning bass and crushing on-cue percussion. Christoph Hahn’s steel takes on a delirious country feel again during “I Crawled,” wherein Gira’s southern preacher delivery deteriorates into a primal-howl call-and-response, as reeds of a melodica wheeze in the distance. And it’s a credit to Gira’s own constitution that well into his 50s, he can fairly easily return to his trademark, tremulous early-Swans bellow for the bludgeoning coda.

The set closes with “93 Ave. B Blues,” possibly an on-the-spot improvisation that probably has nothing to do with the trendy east village restaurant that Google Maps reveals. Over five terrifying minutes, the Swans unleash a final Grand Guignol of formless feedback, string-wrangling noise, filth and pummel, while Harris coaxes alien squalls from the clarinet like the baby from David Lynch’s Eraserhead. Taken as a rumination on the violent, addiction-rife streets of New York City’s 1980s Lower East Side where it all started for Swans, it provides an overwhelming closure and serves as a jarring prelude to Gira’s brief, a cappella rendition of “Little Mouth.”

We Rose From Your Bed With the Sun in Our Head complements its live predecessors like Real Love, Kill the Child, and Public Castration is a Good Idea well, retaining an element of grit that even recording technology in the digital age can’t wipe fully clean. Nowadays, the ability to draw convincingly from a multi-tiered history and a musical vernacular largely of your own creation is the hard-earned privilege of scant few artists aside from Swans. While providing an exciting document of this stage of the band, We Rose From Your Bed… offers a tantalizing hint at what’s to come.

By Adam MacGregor

Other Reviews of Swans

My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky

The Seer

Read More

View all articles by Adam MacGregor

Find out more about Young God

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.