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2017-06-27

SWANS - Deliquescence

There's too much unnecessary bullshit in my social media timeline. How else could I almost have missed this new Swans live double CD?

That being said there are still copies available at Young God Records right now, so I would still have a chance to get it. But even though this release isn't as limited as the last two live albums "Not Here / Not Now" and "The Gate", it probably won't be too long, until "Deliquescence" is only available for moon prices.


SWANS - Deliquescence (2CD) (2017)

As always with Swans - no matter if it's a vinyl or like this time a CD-only release - you get a beautiful packaging with coherent simplistic artwork within the confines of the unmistakable design familiar from almost the whole back cataloque of the band. The threefold flame and dots motif created by Michael Gira himself is presented in the same manner as were the artworks of "To Be Kind" or "The Glowing Man".

The booklet contains credits, liner notes about the songs' evolution and their state by the time of the recording, lyrics (where not published before) and some humorous descriptions of the seven live band members of this mighty Swans incarnation (2010-2017), including percussionist Thor Harris, even though he wasn't part of the final tour (which I witnessed in Hamburg) where Paul Wallfisch on keyboards filled his spot.




By now noone following the group should be surprised that the whole album runs over two and a half hours but only features seven tracks. It's an equivalent of most dates of the tour, with the difference that the album doesn't document one concert, but mixes recordings from Berlin and San Francisco. You probably wouldn't notice if you didn't know.
The sound quality is perfect; I can't imagine how you should capture the overwhelming noise as well as the grandiosity and musicality of the performance better than on "Deliquescence".

More than half of the album is filled with compositions already familiar in various versions, being "Cloud Of Forgetting", "Cloud Of Unknowing" and "The Glowing Man" from the album of the same name. All live versions are longer than the studio recordings, with the "The Glowing Man" clocking out at intimitading thirtysix minutes.

Those songs, along with the short (meaning under eight minutes) "To Be Kind" opener "Screen Shot" don't stray too far from their sources and remain relatively recognizable.
Maybe this the closest modern era Swans have ever come to reproducing their material like almost very other band does it. And it's not a bad thing.




On the other hand there is still more than one full hour of completely new material exclusively played on this tour, starting with the immense opener "The Knot", a fourty-five minute testament and culmination of the maximalism of this Swans incarnation. This behemoth alone is a whole album in itself, showcasing all the excessive, ritualistic, hypnotic, cathartic qualities which make this band so utterly overwhelming.
Some passages sound familiar, but this being a sort of sonic résumé, originality isn't the most needed ingredient here. The masterful execution is the key. It's amazing how a song of such monstrous length can still pull off to impress right to the very end. This finale is just one of the grandest passages I've ever heard from this band. So spectacular and cinematic!

Swans live 2016
"Deliquescing" on the other hand sounds unfinished. Michael Gira describes it as "the moment we gave up trying to perform the song The World Looks Red". It's the least explored improvisation of this album, sketchy, a fleeting point in time with a quite different kind of energy than the other recordings.

Consequently "The Man Who Refused To Be Unhappy", a song which later developed from "Deliquescing" also has a different vibe than the rest, yet in another way.
Its atypical upbeat rhythm lends it a seldom feeling of positivity, almost as if this song has a similar intention as "Finally, Peace" on "The Glowing Man", to see the Swans off on a high note.

What will the future bring? Who will be in the Swans of tomorrow?
The long goodbye is finally coming to an end now. Gira hints at a few song parts as being possible leads to what he will explorate further, but does he really know it yet? I wouldn't bet on it. But I surely will listen.


Of the four live recordings from the "Seer" Swans this could very well turn out to be the most prolific and important. Or will it forever be "We Rose From Your Bed With The Sun In Our Heads"?

Who cares? This is just majestic! And the exclusive tracks alone make "Deliquescence" an absolutely worthwhile item.



Highlights: The Knot, The Glowing Man, Cloud Of Unknowing



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