Saturday, September 15, 2018

Michael Gira with Norman Westberg US Solo Acoustic Tour: Sept 27 - Oct 25

Having led the towering rock outfit SWANS through numerous manifestations over the decades since it's inception, including a brief phase as the folk ensemble The Angels of Light, change and transfiguration have been one of their great constants of Michael Gira's lifelong music endeavor. The cartography of this almost four decades-spanning terrain mapped for Exclaim in Dimitri Nasrallah's "Michael Gira: from SWANS Uncompromising Sound to Ethereal Angels of Light", and in greater detail and intimacy by friends, fellow musicians and peers in Nick Soulsby's recently published oral history of the band, "SWANS: Sacrifice and Transcendence". 2018 sees another of these metamorphosis, as Gira has taken a second brief hiatus to reconfigure SWANS. Unlike the decade departure of The Angels of Light, Gira has established that a future as-yet conceived arrangement of the band is to return in coming years. Issuing a statement through his Young God Records site, the author and musician has established this period as a interstice between iterations of his dominant musical project. Filling the interlude to play, develop, and perform new works, Gira will be spanning the west coast on a monthlong solo acoustic tour this fall, with a date at Seattle's Columbia City Theater. In light of SWANS last return and reformation after a 15 year hiatus, in which they were manifest in the most powerful and expansive iteration to date, there is little cause to doubt they will return in a next state of renewal, reinvention, and creative metempsychosis.

At the end of their previous incarnation, with the grandiose heights scaled in "Soundtracks for the Blind" and "Swans are Dead", they took celestial ascension and physical bombast to literally epic durations and dynamic magnitide. The post-reform precision and (relative) brevity of 2010's "My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope in the Sky", the more variegated and nuanced "The Seer", the extended forays heard on "To Be Kind", and rapturous hypnoticism of 2016's "The Glowing Man" ascend to, and even expand upon similarly Homeric heights. "Michael Gira on ‘Dangling Off the Edge of a Cliff’ for SWANS Epic Final Album" for The Observer maps the musical trajectory's Oroborous-like path back to itself, as SWANS of the 21st Century has birthed a supreme amalgam from it's own DNA. One that encapsulates the totality of their almost 40 year trajectory. From brutalist No Wave minimalism, to Musique Concrete and extended tonal and drone compositions, to electric rock, psychedelia, blues, folk and Americana. The Guardian's John Doran postulates how it came to pass that SWANS produced the best work of their career so far. Where so many other bands of a similar vintage have retread familiar ground, revisiting the formula of past successes, Gira and company chose to instead stake everything on a fresh roll of the dice. They took a genuine gamble on creating new art rather than trying to recapture past glories and in doing so, they conjured an, "Enduring Love: Why SWANS are More Vital Now than Ever". The albums and live performances of this past decade, spanning 2010-2018, were the fruit of an extended, ever-evolving recording process. "A Little Drop of Blood: Michael Gira of SWANS Interviewed" for The Quietus describes the often arduous writing, rehearsal, touring and recording in a dynamic creative systole and diastole. The undertaking of then translating these recorded works to a marathon live experience documented in an interview with Pitchfork of 2014, "Michael Gira Talks about How SWANS Returned without Losing Any Potency". Even more personal and confessional, The Quietus have produced a lengthy interview on the explicitly spiritual, transcendental nature of their live incarnation, "This is My Sermon: Michael Gira of SWANS Speaks". Photo credit: Cyrille Choupas