Music Review | posted 15.05.2014
Swans
To Be Kind
Mute, 2014
Text Björn Bischoff , Translation Julia Frohn
Your Rating:
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7.8
Editorial
Cover Swans - To Be Kind

Things to not expect from this record: salvation, beauty, quietness. Things to expect from this record: perdition, ugliness, repetition. Just like »The Seer«, Swans’ »To Be Kind« is a millstone recapulating, relentlessly crunching every single note until – ideally – it breaks altogether. Sometimes it only takes eight minutes to achieve that goal, like in the opener »Screenshot«. At other times, it’s more than half an hour, like in »Bring the Sun/Toussaint L’Ouverture«. The guitars fuse together and form an impervious surface, which is mostly due to John Congleton, the man behind the mixer. In »She Loves Us«, Michael Gira and John Congleton have synchronized everything so perfectly that every vein of the track becomes visible, despite the track’s violence. Swans are combining noise, industrial and experimental, and have thereby formed a boulder that’s impossible to comprehend with only a few listens. The band keeps shattering its very own perfection through cacophony, like when Gira barks, yowls and howls, or when different instruments are stuck on disharmonious times for a few seconds. Those who thought that collaborating with St. Vincent or Cold Specks’ Al Spx would make the songs come along as melodious or poppy, will quickly be pulled back to the brink when listening to »To Be Kind«. This album is nothing but calamity, it’s a monster, yet not as upsetting as its predecessor. It’s a sequel that still shakes you to the core, chewing on your brain like an old bubblegum which has lost its flavor long ago. If you haven’t felt it before, »Nathalie Neal« will finally serve as an axe for your inner Arctic Sea. And when you see a familiar face underneath the surface, the beatings will just increase. At the end, all is left are shattered bones, lying beneath the cold stars. After two hours, »To Be Kind« desists from this world and goes back to the nothingness it came from. A storm, a monster, a massacre of a record.

You can find »To Be Kind« by Swans at hhv.de: 3LP 2CD+DVD 2CD
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