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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Swans - My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky
The temptation to this give this album by Swans a five star review solely on the basis of its splendid title is almost irresistible but steady as we go. Whatever the case it is a welcome return for band that has courted a fair share of controversy in its time, with its leader Michael Gira making intensely radical music stemming from New York's fabled no-wave art-rock...
Published on 23 Sep 2010 by Red on Black

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Damp Squib
Having heard a preview of this album's standout track 'Eden Prison' on The Quietus prior to release, the writer really was expecting something special. Having given the CD several plays since its release, however, I just don't think it's that good. Gone is Gira's impossibly deep baritone of the 90's. Having enjoyed a lot of the inspired, dissonant Americana of the Angels...
Published on 28 April 2011 by Lochan a Choire Ghuirm


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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Swans - My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky, 23 Sep 2010
By 
Red on Black - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky (Audio CD)
The temptation to this give this album by Swans a five star review solely on the basis of its splendid title is almost irresistible but steady as we go. Whatever the case it is a welcome return for band that has courted a fair share of controversy in its time, with its leader Michael Gira making intensely radical music stemming from New York's fabled no-wave art-rock scene particularly in the decade of 1990s when the band seem to release an album every year.

"My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky" is the bands first album since 1997 and it is in part sonic, beautiful, strange, avant garde and downright weird. Previous fans may regret the absence of the experimental vocalist Jarboe La Salle Devereaux but the music speaks for it self and overall it has a good tale to tell. The near 10 minute opener `No Words/No Thoughts' starts off proceedings with bells ringing and develops into a big noize anthem not heard this side of a Lift to Experience or Explosions in the Sky album.

"Reeling the liars in" alternatively is a gentle rolling blues ballad with echoes of the Bad Seeds which you actually find yourself singing along to. "You fffing people make me sick" starts slowly with what sounds like a Jews Harp and then turns into a vocal between Devendra Banhart and the lovely voice of Gira's three-year-old daughter underpinned by jangly guitars. That is until around 3.10 minutes when it sounds like someone has decided to move a piano downstairs and they have recorded it until all sorts of noises last heard on "Dark side of the moon" creep in. It is strangely compelling and the albums highlight. Others like "Eden Prison" are much more abrasive straight forward rockers which again transform halfway in into a rhythmic dirge that builds to cacophonous conclusion before Gira vocal returns. "Jim" is a wonderful builder of a song which initially has a Doors feel but ends up like a Certain Ratio. The best Gira vocal is to be located here and it is an intensely powerful piece of work.

While "My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky" feels like an uncompromising album repeated listens suggest that there is enough in here to satisfy anyone with a taste for more than just your average riff fest and especially the curious rock fan with a penchant for experimentation, as such those who enjoyed Liars excellent 2010 release "Sisterworld" may equally wish to get their cheque books out for "My father". Mercifully (for this reviewer at least) it does stay largely clear of the sort of heavy abrasive industrial monotony that characterised early Swans albums. A recent music review described it as symphonic complexity and the label is a good fit since it is an album that is approachable but challenging. On balance bearing in mind Gira's decision to concentrate on other projects particularly the Angels of Light and thereby "mothball" the Swans for well over a decade, the outcomes contained on "My Father" are remarkable.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More accessible than their earlier stuff, but still full of creativity and ideas, 31 Aug 2011
This review is from: My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky (Audio CD)
In their first album for 11 years, Swans have mellowed - slightly. There are still some crushingly heavy moments, but for the most this album sees Gira pushing his melodic tendencies much more to the fore, similar to his other project, Angels of Light. This all results in a set that is progressive and (relatively) accessible at the same time, incorporating a wealth of ideas without sounding overstuffed and keeping the intensity high throughout. Churning guitars, pounding, tribal drums and Gira's versatile drawl all combine into a powerful and often beautiful album, further enhanced by the fantastic production job. Just get it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Damp Squib, 28 April 2011
This review is from: My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky (Audio CD)
Having heard a preview of this album's standout track 'Eden Prison' on The Quietus prior to release, the writer really was expecting something special. Having given the CD several plays since its release, however, I just don't think it's that good. Gone is Gira's impossibly deep baritone of the 90's. Having enjoyed a lot of the inspired, dissonant Americana of the Angels of Light records ('We Are Him' in particular), I'd become accustomed to the change in Gira's vocal chords. This being a bona fide Swans release, however, I was expecting something, if different from Swans of yore, well, similar in intensity. Not so. 'Reeling the Liars In' sounds not dissimilar to a lot of the 'nu-country' (well, it was never really THAT new, was it?) stuff which has been clogging up the over saturated market for noir Americana since the late '90's. My advice for the expectant listener would be to download the first track and 'Eden Prison' for keeps. The disc does have great cover art by Beatrice Pediconi and the band do still cut it live, but this stuff sadly just doesn't stand up next to the inspired austerity of 'Young God', 'White Light from the Mouth of Infinity', 'Love of Life' or 'Soundtracks for the Blind'.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I like the Swans quite alot., 27 Dec 2010
By 
Mr. AJ Harrison "Bundi School" (Middlesbrough, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky (Audio CD)
This review kinda goes on the basis that i have always really liked the Swans but there are things about them i don't like. Cryptic i know but i have just been in bed for two days with the flu. The early stuff of their career (Cop/Filth) was probably my favourite and was the most in your face original rock out there but could be a bit much sometimes. And the later more acoustic stuff was not really my cup of tea. However Soundtracks For The Blind did used to get alot of heavy play on my CD player. This new album i am really taken with. After not listening to any music whilst being ill this was a welcome return. It seems to be a band which are taking a massive leap forward. Still heavy and still abrasive but somehow in a very different way. There are still the tell tale signs of Swans of the past but this is definitley a new band with new ideas and it shows. A definite return to form.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great album, 15 Mar 2013
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This review is from: My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky (Audio CD)
As an introduction to Swans, this was a great place to start. Noisy elements, folky parts and some pummeling bits.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Yet more wondrous noise from Swans, 18 July 2011
By 
Mr. M. L. Hawes "Mitchmusic" - See all my reviews
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Michael Gira's decision to re-form Swans clearly has caused a fair amount of controversy judging by the reviews of this record.

I must confess, my first thought was why? But on hearing this, I am damn glad to hear that they're back in full force, pulling in all the worldly elements to make a wall of noise that could compete with the pulling power of a black hole.

For me, they are one of the most important bands to ever appear from the No Wave / New Wave scene in New York and whilst they are rarely lauded in the same way as say Sonic Youth, they are no less important.

This their most recent album, may not scale the dizzy heights of WHite Light or Great Annhialator, but it is good, very, very good and in a world where the mundane, drivel of mainstream pop endangers the existence of modern music, we should embrace Swans and thank them for reminding us of how moving art and rock can be when played at unspeakable volume.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Not their best but better than everyone else, 28 May 2011
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This review is from: My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky (Audio CD)
I'll keep it short; Swans had a number of peaks and troughs throughout the 80s and 90s but for me they remained one of the greatest of all bands. This album unsurprisingly has similar high and low points.
I was under no illusions that the reactivated 2010 version would trump their past glories but this is still a very good album. I am writing this with the benfit of having played it regularly in the past months since its release.
If you like Swans, you should find plenty to appreciate here. If you don't like Swans, I pity you and suggest you try the easy listening section.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Heavens Abode, 6 Nov 2010
By 
Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles "FIST" (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky (Audio CD)
First heard this album alive in full rhythmic frenzy. Akin to strolling inside a huge metallic tanker whilst the rivetters descend onto the hull. Upstairs an obscure Johnny Cash record blasts through the tannoy. The cacophony rising and and falling allowing a zither harp to play a melanchilly tune whilst oil rich tar oozes from the metal walls. Mesmeric and hypnotising.

This landed through the door a few days later. More structured than the live event; a rollercoaster of electric pulsing beat of animal skins allowing Thor to cast huge metal rings on the furnace of his anvil.

Marking a transition point between Angels of Light and the Swans. AOL is generally upbeat cynicism whilst Swans plummet for abjection then ascending the heights of ecstasy. This has the folksy elementals of AOL incorporating the granite cacophony of Swans. It neither descends or soars like the the mid period. This shifts into other territories, as musical repetition permeates acid bitter visions, thriving within a new alkali climate.

Themes arise from old soils, the baleful terror of parental commands and the abject desire to please, the supplication into submission of bullying and terror. Michael apart from John Lennon with "Mother" was the first to take it to the limit except, this time he is a father marked by the involvement of his daughter in YFPMMS. Perhaps the next direction will be to shift away from parental terror into inter generational healing?

Meanwhile the baleful post industrial blues bewails a cultural paradox as "Friends" and "Fraser" finally segue into Requiem for a Dream and CSI. Michael's 'vision' provides the clues to how this occured.

A welcome ascent from the tonal melodies marking the last stages of the band. This is where the songs drifted but never lifted. This brings out a newer strength. It would have been easy to blast the "hits." He still has the strength to take risks. No easy feat when you can just recline onto a back catalogue and play the born again rocker for multiple dollars.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You furious people make me happy, 27 Sep 2010
By 
Pieter Uys "Toypom" (Johannesburg) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)   
This review is from: My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky (Audio CD)
The return of Swans brings a new sound with echoes of the old and of Angels of Light. Five of the eight tracks exceed 5 minutes, making this an album of mostly epic pieces with complex tempo variation and shifting textures around that wall of sound which oscillates between jangles and drones. The exceptions, Reeling The Liars In, My Birth and Little Mouth stand out in their own ways.

To me the most impressive are the 9+ minute No Words/No Thoughts and the one in the middle, You Intercoursing People Make Me Sick. The first opens with glockenspiel/chimes before setting off on a winding road in a barrage of layered guitars and shifting rhythms, whilst a didgeridoo introduces the second of which the first part juxtaposes the voice of a guest vocalist with that of a little girl to eerie effect, somewhat like Identity on Love Of Life. Then the metal/industrial sounds burst forth with great ferocity.

Jim and My Birth come closest to mainstream hard rock. A mid tempo number, Jim gets the Swans stamp through its wild percussion, drones, odd noises and quiet moments inbetween. A dulcimer lends the feel to the dissonant My Birth. I would say Eden Prison with its churning cascades and jungle drums resemble most the sound of Great Annihilator and Inside Madeline brings to mind both the orchestral majesty of White Light From The Mouth Of Infinity & The Burning World as well as the drones of Soundtracks for the Blind.

The acerbic lyrics of the acoustic Reeling The Liars In more than compensate for its softer sonics, being closer kin to a song like Blind on Gira's Drainland or to the styles explored by Angels of Light. My Father concludes with Little Mouth, a track made special by the chanting of what sounds like massed choirs.

The themes explore the extremes as always whether expressed by fierce electrical storms characterized by jarring textures or just by voice and acoustic flavors as perfected way back by World of Skin. Gira fans whose favorite albums include Great Annihilator and the early 1990s masterpieces White Light and Love Of Love will be happiest with this powerful album.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Undecided, 22 Dec 2010
By 
D. L. Wilkinson "Dean" (London,UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky (Audio CD)
I just haven't been grabbed by this new Swans album.I loved Swans and Skin from 87 and also loved some Angels of Light.I have no reason why I'm not feeling this one,it just hasn't got to me.Maybe the time has passed or maybe it sits halfway between Swans and Angels in a way that doesn't appeal so much.Maybe it will grow?
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