In the vain hope of convincing some colleagues to join tonight’s Swans adventure at the Paradiso in Amsterdam, I sent the following around.

I was unsuccessful, but perhaps a reader or two will be turned on to the unmitigated brilliance…

A good intro to what Swans are doing now *might be* this one:

  •  Avatar A slightly muddy live version from 2012’s The Seer. (Note the skinny tattooed guitarist in the white t-shirt)
  • No Words / No Thoughts Originally on the 2010 album My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Stars
  • Oxygen Appears on the latest album To Be Kind.
  • The Apostate From 2012’s The Seer.
  • A bit of history: New Mind, from 1987’s Children of God. (I didn’t realize the label had given the band a music video budget. This is about two years before they covered Love Will Tear Us Apart, and just as Jarboe (the female singer/keyboardist who isn’t part of the latest incarnation) joined the band. The skinny shirtless guitarist walking behind Gira is the same guy I pointed out in the Avatar video. I think he’s the only current member of the band whose participation goes back to the 80s.)
  • For a serious sonic adventure, dig Public Castration is a Good Idea, a live document from 1986 that captures their early intensity really well. (They brought Coward (track 5) into the set list for the 2010/2011 tour. (This video is indexed – you can click on the times in the track list.)
  • Blind Love from the 1987 tour document Feel Good Now always gives me the shivers. The evolution they made in just that one year is astounding.

The Jarboe (’87-’97) period produced some really brilliant stuff, but it’s not as representative of what they’re doing now. The final album of that period, Soundtracks for the Blind had some gorgeous creepy stuff. The Beautiful Days, Her Mouth is Filled With Honey, and Blood Section are recommended, but it’s an album to experience in its entirety.