Playing a live solo acoustic set at St. John Church-at-Hackney, last night, Swans mainman, Michael Gira announced plans for a new Swans album to be released this coming May. "Imagine a huge growth on the face of a beautiful child," he said, "and it’s kind of glowing. Then cut that growth off and flush it down the toilet. Well, that’s what it sounds like…"
When I spoke on the phone to Gira last week for this Quietus Essay, we spoke about the rehearsal space he had in Alphabet City, Manhattan in the early ’80s. A windowless shopfront where machine gunfire could be heard at night, I couldn’t help but ask what effect such an environment would have on the music he was making at the time. "Well, I think that exterior kind of describes my insides as well, anyway. So I'm not sure what came first," he replied, laughing down the line. "They’re both equally cataclysmic."
When pushed, he would finally admit that what he called the "siege mentality" of the place "in retrospect it might have" had some effect on his music. "I would have vehemently denied it at the time. You know, it's not like a painter looking at a landscape and they try to depict what they see. Music is a different thing. It is an experience in itself. I kind of shy away from something that’s trying to depict an emotional state. Rather, I’m more interested in what emotional state the music makes happen by experiencing it."