Swans - My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky
The reconvening of the legendary experimental rock troupe Swans after a thirteen year absence (just don’t mention the word “reunion”...) has sent waves of excitement and expectation through the musical community. And so My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky, the album no one thought would actually ever happen, is here – and what a massive disappointment it is.
Despite Michael Gira’s talk of moving forwards and heading in a new direction, My Father ... is in fact a huge step backwards into well-trodden, tiresome territory; ‘Reeling The Liars In’ and ‘Little Mouth’ are turgid country style affairs that grate worse than nails down a chalkboard – the pair of them could have been written by any one of the millions of artists that dominate the mid west states and do not belong on a Swans album.
But is not quite all bad; opener ‘No Words/No Thoughts’ has a spark to it that gets the pulse racing and optimism blooming, the otherworldly ambience continually rising like an Escher staircase with its marching drums and wailing guitars pleasing and unsettling in equal measures. Unfortunately this a trick that Gira tries repeatedly to conjure, and consequently steps well over the line between brilliantly hypnotic, as it is in ‘No Words/No Thoughts’, to hellishly boring, as it becomes by the time the excruciating ‘My Birth’ emerges.
All of My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky is essentially the rehashing of old parts from the first period of Swans’ history without adding anything new or worthwhile, purely mangling and spitting back out the past whilst pretending it’s something new and invigorating; but the reality is that this is an overblown, dull piece of work that drags on even though it’s not even 45 minutes long, and ultimately sullies the wonderful legacy built up by one of the finest exponents in avant-garde music in the last three decades. This should have been one of the albums of the year, but instead has left me cold, bored, and cursing this ill-advised reunion.