Having spent the past year-and-a-half immersed in the music and stories of SWANS, it was an honour to be invited to put together a playlist focused on the band. What I did, in each case, was tried to identify a quote from a member of SWANS that spoke about the context or content or performance or meaning of a song – then try to say, in my own infinitely fallible words, what the song means to me or why it stands out in my mind.
What I love is that there’s no way to speak of a single ‘SWANS sound’: this is a band that has evolved significantly album-to-album, grown exponentially year-by-year, in which the first EP sounds nothing little like the first album, where 1988’s Children Of God is a vast distance from Greed or Holy Money, where White Light From The Mouth of Infinity and Love Of Life are very different beats to 1984’s Cop or 1994’s The Great Annihilator. I was delighted to learn the other month that the Soundtracks For The Blind album is being re-released: I think it’s one of my favourite three albums of all time – a truly singular object and, until Swans return and the awesome 2012-2014 run of The Seer-To Be Kind-The Glowing Man, the only album I’d heard that I felt needed and deserved to be over two hours long. It still stands as one of the only album-length works in the pop-rock-metal-whatever domain to sustain a journey across that full span of playing time.
Wednesday night in London I’m at Moth Club where we’re showing a number of in-progress clips from Marco Porsia’s upcoming epic film on SWANS. There’s a DJ set from the Blackest Ever Black label opening the night then the film clips will be interspersed with my conversation with the host for the night, Q&A about (and readings from) SWANS: Sacrifice And Transcendence – The Oral History, as well as audience discussion. I’m intrigued to hear what people in the room think.