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Swans

Burning World

1972
LP $20.25

04/29/2014 852545003264 

IF 26 


The Burning World is an excellent curio in Swans’ already eclectic discography. 1987’s Children of God confirmed that Swans could indulge delicacy alongside immersive swathes of sound. In 1989, band leader Michael Gira co-produced The Burning World alongside multi-instrumentalist Bill Laswell and continued to refine his songwriting without compromising power. Jarboe’s inimitable vocal presence enhances the overall tunefulness while Gira’s own weary-but-resilient declamations ascend to towering intensity at precisely the right moments. All throughout, Gira rages against God for the sake of love, lifting the veil off darkness to reveal exaltation. “(She’s a) Universal Emptiness” finds Gira’s signature croon perfectly belied by Jarboe’s harmony, but the sauntering balladry is spiked with assaultive snare drum and a rogue chord on the verge of feeling saccharine. “Jane Mary, Cry One Tear” sends Gira’s voice to seemingly impossible depths. The slight quiver and momentary roll of the tongue that marks his style is on full display, as if the merest detail of his evocative delivery is toiled over in advance. It begins with the minimal guide of an acoustic guitar and builds to ardent fury, all the while honoring the intricate minutiae in his voice. The Burning World resolves Swans mournful rock sensibility with some of the most pure hooks Gira ever sang over, but his indelible assets as a singular songwriter are wholly intact and unmistakable.

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