tue 23/04/2024

Album: Swans - The Beggar | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Swans - The Beggar

Album: Swans - The Beggar

Michael Gira’s shamanic crew return with two hours of brooding heft and grit

It’s some 40 years since Swans first made a name for themselves through the sheer volume of their live performances and provocative song titles like “Time is Money (Bastard)” and “Raping a Slave”. Irritated by this reputation though, it wasn’t long before band leader Michael Gira had turned down the volume somewhat (though not too much) and was bringing new sounds into their repertoire.

This keenness not to stand still artistically has remained a constant throughout Swans’ history, and so it is no surprise that there is plenty that is new and interesting on The Beggar. Opening track, “The Parasite” even sounds like a piece of musical theatre, albeit very dark musical theatre. Elsewhere, there’s the almost symphonic (and three quarters of an hour long) “The Beggar Lover (Three)”, which weaves its way through a rainbow of tempos, atmospheres and textures. There’s also the quite gentle “No More of This”, which has echoes of when Gira’s ex-partner Jarboe was in the band, and some of the grittiest Americana textures backed with hefty doses of drone on the likes of “Paradise is Mine” and “Why Can’t I Have What I Want Any Time That I Want?”. Nevertheless, there are also plenty of sounds that have become familiar since Swans’ 2010 return, after more than 10 years in abeyance, especially on the menacing “The Memorious” and brooding title track.

Since disbanding the last stable line-up of Swans, after touring 2016’s album The Glowing Man, Gira has seemingly steered a looser group towards the sound of The Angels of Light, his band from the early 2000s. This is a trend that continues with The Beggar – which is less harsh, even if it is no less gritty, menacing and intense than what we have come to expect. But, at two hours’ long, some may still find it a bit much to consume in one sitting.

There is plenty that is new and interesting on The Beggar


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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