Founded by front man Michael Gira in the late 70's, Swans are a legend of underground music. The band's glacial tempos, drop-tuned guitars, and electronic distortion combined with Gira's monolithic lyrics about madness, violence, sex, power, and brutality earned them a reputation for some aurally punishing (but in a good way) live shows.
To get a feel for what I'm talking about, check out this footage from a show in 1986. Also, here is an excerpt from a whimsical little ditty Gira penned in 1984 called "Job."
Cut off the arms.
Cut off the head.
Cut off the legs.
Get rid of the body.
Heartache to heartache.
Job to job.
Body to body. Pus.
Poison. Blood. Shit.
In case you're having trouble putting those lyrics to music, here is what it sounds like. I know. It's fucking rad.
Swans, or some lineup thereof, lasted until 1996. After that, Gira pursued various solo projects while writing fiction and running a record label. Then in 2010, he resurrected Swans with release of My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky. Their first album in 14 years.
This year, they released the very excellent To Be Kind. Here is a little taste of that.
Swans will be at Yugong Yishan on Wednesday, February 4. Ticket price and opening acts TBC.