*This original edition is sold out.*
I recorded these songs alone, at my desk, in most cases just as I was writing them - me and an acoustic guitar and one stereo microphone. I've often found that the true "feel" of a song exists then, right at the point it's first pulled together, stronger than at any later point.
Often, everything else that's done to the song in later stages - rehearsals, orchestration, recording, live performances with a band - is just a struggle to get back to the sensation of when it was first conceived, through different means. So, here are these songs in the most "intimate" form possible. I hope you enjoy them. I've also included two Swans songs, re-conceived for the purposes of this CD: I Remember Who You Are, and Love Will Save You. In addition, I've included the fully orchestrated, 24 track recording of a song, "God's Servant", that didn't make it onto the first angels album, New Mother. In retrospect, I wish we would have included it - seems like it would have been one of the best on that album. Maybe there was no space left on the CD - I don't remember.
This "Solo" CD is available only through this website. It is hand packaged by me, here at home. I've done a self portrait that has been converted into a woodblock, and I'll
print each cover image myself onto a cd sleeve printed on matte black paper (a specially made dye cut supplied by our friends at alien8recordings), sign it with silver or gold ink, then slip it into a soft plastic CD folder, in which I'll also include a lyric sheet on heavy stock beige paper. The CD itself is plain white and contains no other visual information except for my initialed signature.
Thanks go to Patrick Fondiller for the woodcut and to Bradford Reed for the mastering of this CD.
Mark Weddle review Brainwashed 2001
At the heart of much of Michael Gira's songs with SWANS and The Angels of Light is the bare essence of Gira, simply the voice and guitar. On this Young God Records web site exclusive, that's about all you get. Recorded alone at home, often as they were written, the 13 songs are new save for 2 SWANS reworkings ("Love Will Save You", "Remember Who You Are"), a fully orchestrated studio leftover from the first Angel's album sessions ("God's Servant", previously released on the "Praise Your Name" 7") and a live performance at Tonic NYC ("Irish Queen"). Gira unabashedly intones to the basic, often quiet, accompaniment of his acoustic guitar plucks and strums. The sound is, somewhat surprisingly, full, rich and complete. But then again, it's not a surprise if you've ever heard or seen Gira perform solo as I have, his emotional involvement with each song transcending the need for instrumental adornment. Simple and simply perfect. Lyrically Gira draws upon many of his trademark subjects: love, longing, loss, sex, betrayal and bitterness, as well as the influence of artists and authors (Madison Smartt Bell, Paul Theraux). The disc is signed and comes in a heavy vinyl folder with lyric sheet and self portrait cover assembled by Gira for $17.
11/1/2001 | All Music Guide | Ned Raggett
M. Gira | Solo Recordings at Home | Review
Gira had discussed the idea of releasing a stripped-down release for some time before the appearance of Solo Recordings at Home, and, as with most things he put his mind to, the end results easily justified the wait. While his later work in Swans and the Angels of Light had incorporated more acoustic efforts, usually as part of song arrangements, Solo Recordings squarely places the emphasis on Gira's voice and guitar only, captured at home via one microphone (an exception being the roughly recorded concert effort "Irish Queen"). Given the sheer emotional resonance of his lyrics -- a number of his efforts here, like the slow, loping "Surrogate" or "On the Mountain," are among his bluntest ever -- the nature of the performances is astonishingly direct as a result. In keeping with his post-Swans work, though, Gira's singing balances command with empathy, cracked and tender at once; anyone not taken with his late-'90s singing won't be convinced here, though fans will find it addictive. His guitar playing similarly can shift on a dime from sudden, brusque runs to gentler, steady fingerpicking, evoking everything from strung out rural blues to Nick Drake's hushed emptiness while still sounding uniquely in his own style. "Kosinsky" in particular has a claim to be one of his prettiest ever efforts, a fascinating contrast to the lyrical meditation on voyeurism. There's one ringer on the disc -- "God's Servant," a fully orchestrated studio recording taken from the sessions for the Angels of Light's New Mother. Also of interest are two reworkings of older Swans songs -- the first, "Love Will Save You," is a gripping take on the White Light From the Mouth of Infinity highlight, its combined message of hope and its absence all the more evocative. Even more striking in context is the wracked take on The Burning World's "I Remember Who You Are," easily trumping the smothered, smoothed-out production of the original.