THIS IS NOW COMPLETELY SOLD OUT.
This handmade CD/DVD package is being sold specifically to help raise funds for/help defray the considerable costs of recording and promoting the upcoming new Swans album (more on the reactivation of Swans below). There’s a number of ways you can help support this effort, above. Thanks very much, and I hope you enjoy.
Most of the songs on this CD were recorded by me at home using an Audio-Technica AT 825 stereo microphone, sitting at my desk in my office. There were no overdubs. The first 11 songs on the CD are rough versions of some of the songs (not all) under consideration for the new Swans album (hopefully due Fall 2010). There’s a few extra songs here on the CD - “Promise Of Water” and “Failure”, and they were recorded by Jason La Farge at Seizure’s Palace Recording, Brooklyn NY.
The songs are here in their raw state, as I present them to the band. I have a concept in mind of how each one should sound ultimately, but I’m sure that as usual, once I begin working with my cohorts, things will change considerably from the initial plan, and for the better. I haven’t been as excited (and I admit, intimidated) by a project in years. Let’s hope that whatever beast is created in the process rears itself up on its’ hind legs, swipes furiously at the sky with its’ claws, then bends down and rips my head off with its’ razor teeth. That would make me very happy.
Here’s the Track Listing to the CD (you can listen to some streams elsewhere on this page): 1. Jim 2. No Words / No Thoughts 3. Reeling The Liars In 4. My Birth 5. Little Mouth 6. Eden Prison (That Way) 7. Eden Prison (This Way) 8. My Lazy Clown 9. Opium Song 10. Inside Madeline 11. Oxygen 12. Promise Of Water 13. Failure
Here’s what’s on the DVD:
Frankie Macias came to my house in the Catskill area and filmed me talking in my office and singing a few songs. He also filmed a solo show of mine at The Highline Ballroom in NYC. I spray spit, I scream, I shake.
Track Listing Highline Ballroom Show: 1. I Am The Sun 2. Promise of Water 3. Nations 4. Failure 5. Lena’s Song 6. My Brother’s Man 7. Destroyer 8. She Lives! 9. My Sister Said 10. Sometimes I Dream I’m Hurting You 11. Rose Of Los Angeles
Trevor Grace and D. Fisher filmed my solo show at The Drake Underground in Toronto. I embarrass myself and lamely insult the audience, and put on a good show. James Blackshaw guests on one song.
Track Listing Drake Underground Show: 1. Little Mouth 2. On The Mountain (Looking Down) 3. Promise Of Water 4. Reeling The Liars In 5. My Brother’s Man 6. The Surrogate 7. Destroyer 8. Oxygen 9. Inside Madeline 10. Eden Prison 11. Sometimes I Dream I’m Hurting You
Please do not upload any of the material contained in this package onto the web or “share” it all over the god damn place.
ABOUT THE ARTWORK/PACKAGING:
Indeed, I now realize, I am insane. A ridiculous amount of repetitive, tedious work went into this. ha ha! (You can see a visual record of the process here). I did a simple drawing, which I then transferred to a woodblock. I then cut the woodblock. Then I painted a blob of printers ink (as a background) on each of 1000 fine quality 5” x 5” envelopes. Then I printed each one of these envelopes with the woodblock, in black ink. Then I colored in with a red felt pen parts of the print on each one of the 1000. I lost my mind somewhere at this point. Then I signed and numbered each one. Then I took a gold or silver marker and did an addition to the design on every 15th one or so (making it 4 colors on these ones). Then I stuffed the CDs and DVDs and info sheet etc into the clear vinyl package. Then I killed myself, or you. No, actually, in a way, tedious as all this is, I enjoy it to a certain extent. Once you get into the rhythm, it has a Zen aspect that I find relaxing (until I freak out and run screaming from the room).
About reconstituting Swans:
As I mentioned in a previous newsletter, there was a point a few years ago during a particular show when I was on tour with Angels Of Light, with Akron/Family serving as the backing band. It was during the song The Provider. Seth’s guitar was sustaining one open chord (very loudly), rising to a peak, then crashing down again in a rhythm that could have been the equivalent of a deep and soulful act of copulation. The whole band swayed with this arc. Really was like riding waves of sound. I thought right then, “You know, Michael, Swans wasn’t so bad after all...” . Ha ha! It brought back – in a flood – memories, or maybe not memories, more a tangible re-emersion in the sensation of Swans music rushing through my body in waves, lifting me up towards what, I can only assume, will be my only experience of heaven. It’s difficult – and probably pointless – to try to describe this experience. It’s ecstatic, I suppose – a force of simultaneous self negation and rebirth. Really, I probably only experienced this a handful of times to such an extreme extent during the entire 15 year history of Swans. All the elements have to align perfectly, and you can’t force it, though you might constantly strive for it. I don’t mean to be too lofty here, but it’s a fact. I’m talking about my own experience of the music (though I’d hope people in the audiences along the way might have experienced a similar episode). When I ask myself if I believe in God, I start to say NO, but then I remember that sensation, and I’m not so sure. So I want more of that, before my body breaks down to such an extent that it won’t be possible any more. So I’m doing it.
Naturally, some of the material for this new record will be songs, centered around the voice and words. Other parts (I’m hoping) will be reaching for what I’ve described above. One thing I want to point out right now: THIS IS NOT A REUNION. It’s not some dumb-ass nostalgia act. It is not repeating the past. After 5 Angels Of Light albums, I needed a way to move FORWARD, in a new direction, and it just so happens that revivifying the idea of Swans is allowing me to do that. I’ll be using what I learned in the last several years to inform the way this new material develops, while carrying forward from where Swans left off with its final album Soundtracks For The Blind, and in particular, Swans Are Dead. If you have expectations about how Swans should be, that’s your business, but it would be a disservice to both of us if I were to make music with your needs in mind, and the music would certainly suffer as a result. In any event, I certainly never thought this day would arrive, but it’s inevitable, it’s here, it’s fate, so I’m succumbing to it.
Helping me in this quest are the fantastic musicians and friends listed below. I’ll enter the studio with the songs, we’ll hash them out together, someone will come up with something unexpected, then that will lead to new ideas, the song will take a different trajectory and the material will grow on its’ own. This is what I’m hoping, anyway.
Here’s the main musicians (though probably a lot of guests on the recording). These are the people best suited – in terms of my relationship with them and their particular musical attributes - to help move the music forward :
Michael Gira / guitar / voice / mendicant friar act (original swans)
Norman Westberg – guitar (original swans)
Christoph Hahn – guitar (mid period swans and most angels)
Phil Puleo – drums, percussion, dulcimer etc etc (final swans tour and most angels)
Chris Pravdica – bass and gadgets (flux information sciences / services/ gunga din)
Thor Harris - drums, percussion, vibes, dulcimer, curios, keys, etc etc... (angels, now also with shearwater)