Post No-Wavers Swans have a back catalogue as huge and diverse as a continent. Michael Gira (their Mark E. Smith, if you like) recently reformed the band after dissolving it in 1997 and has given the world another stunning, avant-garde masterpiece to put on the shelf with the rest. Anyone of his calibre would avoid anything cheap or tribute-like but we were hardly expecting them to clear a bar set so high. Gira utilises the acoustic arrangements and gentler tonalities of late Swans and his Angels of Light project but to the same, heavy ends as the first records, demonstrating, as he does so, the lyrical maturity and broad emotional range of a demonic Leonard Cohen. All thrashed ambience and John Adams pulses, the nine-and-a-half minute opener ‘No Words/No Thoughts’, ‘Eden Prison’ and the Devendra Banhart-featuring ‘You Fucking People Make Me Sick’ are standouts but, really, this is brilliant start-to-finish; the most well-crafted and terrifying album I’ve heard this year.

By Edgar Smith

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