Angels Of Light New Mother
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- Released: April 20, 1999
- Originally Released: 1999
- Label: Young God Records
Song previews provided courtesy of iTunes
Starting with a gentle keyboard in "Fragment," which seamlessly moves into "Praise Your Name" with its piano, accordion, brushed drums, and folk/pop backing singers, Michael Gira continues with his intentional break from Swans. Anything but a softening of his art -- sample lyrics from "Praise" include "Kill idiot violence, punish greed, punish me" -- New Mother instead lets Gira experiment even further, concentrating on acoustic guitar songs accompanied by a variety of musicians. As with just about anything he tries, the results are highly individual and astonishingly good. Equally noticeable throughout the full 75-minute disc are Gira's vocals -- he's actually singing, as opposed to the brooding speak/sing of the later Swans years. While he's no Scott Walker (e.g., with occasional straining on the high notes), he's quite good nonetheless, further distinguishing his Angels work as being a mere continuation of his previous band. The general feel of the entire record draws on a juxtaposition of lush '60s American and European pop orchestration (the use of a banjo inevitably recalls Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks) with often stark, ominous recordings and arrangements (and sometimes, as on "Angels of Light," a hint of the relentless build of many of Swans' final epic pieces), creating a marvelous artistic tension that avoids mere pastiche. Those songs with more stripped-down arrangements, such as the romantically obsessed "This Is Mine," with merely guitar, piano, and what sounds like hammer dulcimer, succeed as well as the fuller numbers, providing a fine variety to the disc. No less than 19 musicians participated in the creation of New Mother, and the fact that Gira was able to synthesize their efforts and create such a powerful debut bodes well for his future efforts in this vein. ~ Ned Raggett
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