Thursday, June 14, 2007
Angels Of Light Previews
Though it’ll be another few months before the new Angels of Light album hits the record store shelves there is already some growing interest amongst the online community. Here are a few notable previews of We are Him from such heavies as Coke Machine Glow, Pitchfork & Tiny Mix Tapes. Things appear to be off to a good start.
May 07th 2007
Angels of Light: “We Are Him"
From We Are Him (Young God; 2007)
Michael Gira -- leader of Swans, occasional solo artist, and single best/scariest voice in rock -- is back with a new album under the Angels of Light moniker in August. As always, new M. Gira material is reason to get excited, especially now that he has the daunting task of following up the excellent Sing Other People and a split LP with Akron/Family that had us all worked up back in '05. If the title track is any indication, We Are Him looks to be another jump forward. Working with Akron/Family again, Gira seems to be moving more toward the full-band rock that much of his post-Swans material has avoided. Even though the track heads into familiar territory (especially with the droning intro), the thick rhythm section and driving pulse that Akron/Family bring with them indicates a very different Angels of Light.
Even the best songs off Sing Other People occasionally felt somewhat like lightly-adorned Gira solo tracks; A/F were along for the ride, but they felt added-on rather than integral to the process. "We Are Him," as well as the recently posted "Black River Song," demonstrates the power of a more collaborative relationship. The band chugs along as Gira chants and preaches his way over the top. They rip through a couple of nasty solos, though, and the banshee backing vocals fit the track perfectly. Gira doesn't maintain the grim stoicism or quiet scariness that has informed so much of his solo material and earlier Angels of Light work, but at this point he's more than proven his flexibility as an artist. 25 years and good number of genre jumps after the first Swans EPs and Gira continues to produce innovative, exciting music.
Posted by Eric Harvey on Thu: 05-10-07
New Music: Angels of Light: "We Are Him" / "Black River Song"
Second acts for rock musicians come relatively often, but those that add something fresh and new to the artist's catalog are rare indeed. Since the 1997 dissolution of goth-metal pioneers Swans, Michael Gira has released a series of records as Angels of Light, a heading that covers his wide-ranging collaborative efforts, which lately includes working with drone-folk band Akron/Family. If these two songs are any indication of the rest of the forthcoming We Are Him-- which also features contributions from industrial multi-instrumentalist Bill Rieflin, former Swan Christoph Hahn, and cellist Julia Kent from Antony and the Johnsons, among others-- it could stand as strong evidence that Gira's post-Swans material can definitely stand with, perhaps even surpass, his earlier work.
The two advance singles from We Are Him continue Gira's solo trend toward a symbolic reversal, perhaps an atonement, for what Gira himself called the "bludgeoning, single-minded violence" of Swans' music, and a fervent procession toward redemption. The album's title track opens with an oscillating, meditative, minute-long drone before launching into the inclement, muscular blues environs of the song proper. Over Akron/Family's sour, watertight rollick, Gira intones a series of fire-and-brimstone three-syllable chants-- "Let him in," "Through your skin," "Set him free," "Be his friend"-- like a preacher unwilling to take no for an answer. The band is equally cyclic and strident on "Black River Song", and the austerity of Gira's vocals, illuminating the dark current running through "every man, woman and child," echo another two-career artist with one foot in the avant-garde, John Cale.
Posted by David Nadelle on 05-21-2007
Hopelessly E-Devotional to Him. Hallelujah! Angels of Light Back with New
I may just have a suspicious nature, or maybe I’m reading into things way too much, but it seems that there has been a lot of God talk finding its way into the Tiny Mix Tapes news section lately (yes, two stories equal "a lot" in my world). It might have something to do with the season or an unconscious, heavenly prod to straighten up after celebrating the summer sun a bit too much too early this year. It might be that writing something original is harder than plagiarizing Macka’s biblical-biased blurb from last week. Still on a TMT tip, it certainly has something to do with my night out with fellow scribe Munroe (who is a fucking heathen, pure and simple), because since that fateful night, I have felt, well, different inside. I cannot shake the feeling that an all-powerful force is at work. I cannot chalk it up to mere coincidence that when I stumblebummed my way into the bar washroom for the nth time that night, I was hit with a sudden rush of strangeness, and I have a vague memory of picking up some sort of ephemeral off the top of the toilet tank at the same time (no, it was not VD or an eighth of a line, you skeptics!). When I awoke the next morning (feeling less than good, and feeling stupid for having dropped my fully loaded fries and Pogo combo on my shirt), I spied a booklet peeking out of my crumpled jeans’ back pocket. The cover asked a simple half-question, Have you heard of…? and the booklet’s innards contained the following Four Fantastic Facts:
#1. God loves you and wants to show you His wonderful plan for your life.
#2. Everyone is born with sin in their hearts.
#3. Only Jesus can clean our sinful hearts.
#4. We must each receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
Me, I went back to bed. While many will address these quips and their own spiritual center in their own time by checking out the likes of John 10:10 ("The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so they can have life. I want them to have it in the fullest possible way."), Romans 3:23 and 5:8 ("Everyone has sinned. No one measures up to God’s glory" and "But here is how God has shown His love for us. While we were still sinners, Christ dies for us."), and Ephesians 2:8-9 ("God’s grace has saved you because of your faith in Christ. Your salvation doesn’t come from anything you do. It is God’s gift. It is not based on anything you have done. No one can brag about earning it."), I already chose the right path when I became a follower of Michael Gira’s teachings. Whenever I hear Gira, in solo artist guise, as the main man behind Swans, and more recently behind his Angels Of Light moniker, I am born again and excited to have received someone into my heart and life that won’t steal my girlfriend and PIN number.
You would have to be the Antichrist to think that a new Angels Of Light album is not at least one and three-quarters of a great idea. Go ahead and test the notion: ask any street corner lunatic you are on good terms with, or that girl you met that trains pigeons inside her apartment, whether he or she isn’t excited as hell about the prospect of a new glorious Angels Of Light album and you will invariably get the same answer: "Righteous!" Tons of news, song snippets, full tracks, and more than appropriate truisms from other artists regarding Gira and the new Angels Of Light album We Are Him can be found on the Young God Records site. The album, Gira’s 73rd, is out August 20 and is chock full of superb guest players and friends and past collaborators from Gira’s days in Swans and recent backing friends Akron/Family.
The only thing as exciting as beginning another great Angels Of Light record adventure would be to see Him live. We sent off an informal e-mail to Gira to find out if and when we can expect to witness the live faith, and he shot back right away with, "I will be touring extensively after release of album August 20 in two-week stints throughout the year following release...Touring solo exclusively... I enjoy solo much more than with band these days. More of a challenge, and in some ways more ’pure’ and just as intense in its own way, I think... it’s a little lonely though — I go out by myself, don’t bring a tour manager or extra driver or anything, hence the two weeks at a time limit..."
"Pure" and "intense" are good words to sum any Angels of Light story. It is a good thing too, because I’m running out of steam... I can’t help it if piling on praise leaves me emotionally winded. It will do the same to you. What more can you possibly want anyway? News of an Angels Of Light album, a quote from the (God)head Himself, and some second-rate witticisms from yours truly don’t come cheap — they come free! Can I get an "Amen"!?!?
1 Black River Song
2 Promise of Water
3 The Man We Left Behind
4 My Brother’s Man
5 This Is Not Here/This Is Not Now
6 Joseph’s Song
7 We Are Him
8 Sometimes I Dream I’m Hurting You
9 Sunflower’s Here To Stay
10 Good Bye Mary Lou
11 The Visitor
12 Star Chaser