Sunday, October 19, 2014

Swans in Arena Wien | concert review

Swans is not a band I'm familiar with, for some reasons I missed them all these last three decades - maybe because for me post-punk was mostly British, and no wave was more on the side of free-jazz or contemporary music…

Anyway, some (younger) musicians I'm playing with strongly advised me to listen to Swans and to go to their concert last friday, and they were right! It was an intense and inspirational concert, and probably a landmark in my life as a musician and music lover. Their unique combination of minimalism and maximalism, fueled by rock energy but ruled by contemporary music strategies, allows them to break the boundaries of their art as much as the emotional ones of their audience!

Fronted and powered by guitars (ES-335 Lucille for Michael Gira and telecaster for Norman Westberg - not the guitars you'd expect for such a noisy act), Swans' rich sound owes a lot to the lap steel of Christop Hahn that creates beautiful distorted textures and the percussions of Thor Harris (gong, tubular bells, vibraphone, cymbals…) - who also played trombone, clarinet and what seemed to be a homemade silicone string bass similar to an Ashbory bass, but that he also played with a bow, I have to learn more about that (actually it's a pity that the mix at the Arena Wien didn't do justice to Harris' presence and put the guitars really on top of everything). And of course Phil Puleo's powerful drumming is the bedrock of this  musical architecture.

Since I didn't know their songs and didn't expect anything, I could really just dive into the music and let myself go in their repetitive patterns and thunder drones, carried by mere sonic bliss. My only reservation was that Swans is very brainy, with a kind of macho self-consciousness that prevents their music to become really emotional and reach the plasmatic creative chaos that would have really blown my mind - I don't know if  this Viennese concert was not their best or if it's just what they are…

No comments:

Post a Comment

gUitarREN's facebook

gUitarREN on Facebook