More of a performance art piece than an actual musical record, Swans’ debut is an uncompromisingly ugly amalgam of industrial noise, headache-inducing double bass guitars and the hellish growl of frontman (and then-construction worker) Michael Gira. Their live shows were often performed in pitch darkness, with Gira performing either naked or mercifully wrapped in a towel. The doors were locked to prevent anyone from leaving. The NYC fringe punk scene in the ‘80s was such that you could get away with doing that sort of thing.
There are no hooks, choruses or anything even approaching suitability for radio airplay. The rhythms are slow, grinding and frustratingly repetitive. While completely ignored at the time of its release, it would become something of a cult favourite by the end of the ‘80s, with more commercially successful industrial groups like Einsturzende Neubaten and Godflesh adapting elements of their sound into their records.
December 29, 2020