leaving meaning. represents the start of a new era for Swans, after the group’s leader Michael Gira dissolved the line-up responsible for the triptych of stunning, epic records from 2012 to 2016. Now based around a rotating cast of former and new members of the group, they’ve produced an album which, at a brisk 93 minutes, isn’t quite as long as their recent works, but is sure to please fans nonetheless.
Vinyl Double LP £21.00 STUMM446
2LP on Mute. Comes in a brown chipboard sleeve.
- Includes download code
CD £8.23 CDSTUMM446
2CD on Mute. Comes in a brown chipboard digipak.
9/10 James Mckenzie 25th October 2019
There'll be people far more qualified than me to determine where this album will eventually stand in the history of this band. But let's face it, it's far too early to tell.
I have some initial thoughts but before that here's where I am at with the different incarnations of Swans. My favourite record of theirs is by far 'Soundtracks For The Blind', one of the highlights of the 90s for me or of any decade for that matter. After that I really liked the post reunion albums 'The Seer' and 'To Be Kind'. Whilst also enjoying some of 'My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky' and the early 90s pair of 'White Light From The Mouth Of Infinity' and 'Love Of Life'. That's about as far as my knowledge stretches. So yeah very much still on the beginners slopes in the grand scheme of things with Gira & co. and their deep and varied back catalogue.
So on to 'Leaving Meaning'. Having skipped 'The Glowing Man' I came to this album with fresh ears having had a 5 years gap since last investing any serious listening time with 2014's stellar 'To Be Kind'. I think the break did me good as this has blown me away.
It's hard to pinpoint why, as I certainly wasn't expecting it to, but the subtlety of variation the new players bring (the Necks, Anna and Maria Von Hausswolff, Ben Frost and Larry Mullins to name but a few) is certainly a positve shift in my opinion.
I'll spare you a track by track breakdown other than saying the title track 'Leaving Meaning' could be my favourite piece of music this year. This is Swans in a lower gear, surveying the landscape they travel through with a wicked eye as they go. Still filthy, still vital. Still tearing up the road from time to time but then switching off the engine altogether and gliding down a mountain path with the sun coming up over the horizon, escaping the wolves still chasing from the night before.
A day and night album if i ever heard one. Fantastic return.
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