Swans have commenced the fourth leg of a year-long world-wide tour celebrating the release of their 2 CD set To Be Kind, the third studio album from this outfit since their reactivation by band primum mobile Michael Gira in 2010 after a 14 year hiatus. The touring line-up is: Michael Gira - guitar, voice (original Swans); Norman Westberg - guitar (original Swans); Christoph Hahn - guitar (mid period Swans and most Angels Of Light); 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 / Shearwater).
To Be Kind was produced by Michael Gira, performed by the touring line-up, recorded by the venerable John Congleton at Sonic Ranch, outside El Paso Texas; further recordings and mixing were accomplished at Congleton’s studio in Dallas, Texas. Gira says of the new album, "A good portion of the material for this album was developed live during the Swans tours of 2012/13. Much of the music was otherwise conjured in the studio environment." The album debuted at #37 on Billboard’s Top 200 sales chart and has garnered a huge amount of ecstatic coverage from a host of impressive outlets:
Swans' grand new album, "To Be Kind," is a career-defining work that few could have expected from a 30-plus-year project considered by many to be well past its peak. At 122 minutes, it's as long as a movie and as densely heavy as a Richard Serra sculpture.
Defying easy categorization, "To Be Kind" is a rock album, but it's not something to be taken lightly. Brash, polarizing, fearless and filled with a purity of vision that would make Col. Kurtz blanch, the work features mountains of guitars and beats made with boulders, brass, laser-gun noises, guest vocals from Annie Clark (a.k.a. St. Vincent) and a sprawling vision…Randall Roberts/Los Angeles Times
…To Be Kind harnesses Swans' crushing volume, pulverizing repetition and lacerating waves of feedback — all those conventionally aggro signifiers — to show us that love can be as vast and voracious as the void, and the void as welcoming as a lover's embrace. They are one and the same…. Phillip Sherbourne/Spin.com
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… As it plays out, To Be Kind starts to resemble a cult procession unto itself, a mesmerizing spectacle of an omnipotent band whose sound continues to expand in scope and ranks swell in size…Stuart Berman/Pitchfork.com
Michael Gira founded the seminal NYC band Swans in 1982. Quickly infamous for their punishing, brutal and repetitive onslaughts of sound, extreme volume levels, and the self-abusing, abject shouts and growls of Gira's sloganeering vocals, Swans gradually transformed over 15 years, ultimately venturing into harsh mechanical proto-industrial rock, to sprawling shifts of texture and perspective (see the bucolic atmospheric folk idles and martial stomps of their much heralded Children of God double LP from 1987), to gentle acoustic-based songs, and finally on to their ultimate statement, Soundtracks For The Blind (1997) which somehow incorporated all of these elements at once, across well over 2 hours of music in one album. At this point, Gira called it quits after 15 years of relentless touring and productivity, and disbanded Swans. He went on to release his music under the name Angels Of Light on a long series of critically acclaimed albums. He also produced and released music through his label Young God Records and was responsible for finding and nurturing such notable talents as Devendra Banhart, Lisa Germano, Akron/Family, and James Blackshaw. In 2010, he reactivated Swans, releasing My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky to ecstatic critical response and touring the world for the better part of a year. The Seer, a 2 CD set came out in 2012 and was celebrated by a year-long tour as well, both the album and live shows eliciting still more media praise, the album placing nicely on Billboard’s Top 200 Sales Chart.
SWANS North American Tour Dates 2014
9/1 Salt Lake City @ Urban Lounge +
9/2 Denver, CO @ Bluebird Theatre +
9/4 Seattle, WA @ Showbox +
9/5 Vancouver, BA @ The Venue +
9/6 Portland, OR @ Roseland Theater +
9/8 San Francisco, CA @ Independent +
9/9 San Francisco, CA @ Independent +
9/10 Hollywood, CA @ The Roxy Theatre +
9/11 Hollywood, CA @ The Roxy Theatre +
9/13 Hudson, NY @ Basilica Soundscape
(Carla Bozulich support on September dates)