Wednesday, 17th October 2018. 8:27:02pm ET
Reviews CD Reviews Alternative, Indie Rock Angels of Light- The Angels of Light Sing Other People
Artist: The Angels of Light
CD Title: The Angels of Light Sing Other People
Label: Yound God Records
Reviewer: Matthew Johnson
Date: 6-25-05

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Swans founder Michael Gira, who originally helped ignite the industrial music scene in America with such brutal, percussion-driven tracks as "Time Is Money (Bastard)," has in recent years reestablished himself in an entirely different realm of musical expression. Now considered a sort of godfather of the new "freak folk" movement by signing such luminaries as the eccentric Devendra Banhart to his Young God Records label, Gira continues to progress in a more acoustic, introspective direction with the Angels of Light, his primary project since the breakup of Swans. While it's true that Swans had folk-inspired moments going back to "God Damn the Sun" in 1989, the newest Angels release, recorded with new Young God Records protégés Akron/Family, takes things to a new level of country strumming and swampy banjo. At times the Akron/Family contributions seem too intentionally whimsical. Album opener "Lena's Song" would have more of an emotional impact without Beach Boys style harmonies, for example, and the falsetto back-up vocals on "To Live Through Someone" wreck the delicate balance between understated and twee created by Gira's own raspy baritone. Gira himself employs some new vocal techniques, as well, singing in an irritatingly reedy, nasal voice on "Purple Creek" and the otherwise brilliantly creepy "My Sister Said." On the other hand, while this album might not offer much to diehard fans of Swans - or even earlier Angels of Light records - Gira's songwriting is still wonderful even if his style's changed a bit, and though Akron/Family's more obvious contributions can distract and detract, they also have a lot to offer. "On the Mountain," Gira's ode to Johnny Cash, works wonderfully with Akron/Family's slide guitar and country-flavored finger picking, while the gently intricate guitars of "Destroyer" are the ideal contrast to Gira's apocalyptic visions. This music is definitely better suited to a campfire sing-a-long than a mosh pit, but don't be fooled; it'll still be one hell of a weird, sinister campout.

Visit the Angels of Light, Swans, Akron/Family, and the rest of Michael Gira's friends at www.younggodrecords.com


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