AS THE 1980s receded, Michael Gira evolved Swans on from the proto-industrial kerrang of Time Is Money (Bastard), into the jaw-dropping semi-acoustica of major label debut The Burning World. The latter’s disastrous sales for MCA only deepened Gira’s antipathy to all things corporate, prompting, on ’91’s self-released White Light…, a song called Failure – as crushing a study in despondency as any Mississippi blues.
Behind that trouser-soiling album title, however, there also lurked staggeringly beautiful (if mournfully delivered) songs like Love Will Save You and, from Gira’s then-partner Jarboe, When She Breathes.
With no middle ground between terrifying bleak-fests and hymns of romantic salvation (ie. no boring tracks), this exquisitely orchestrated double-LP is Gira’s masterpiece.
The following year’s Love Of Life upholds the biblically revelatory vibe, but, laced through with found voice recordings, lacks the sense of all-eclipsing sublimation.
Listen to Failure: