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SWANS For Supersonic 2010!
The Quietus , April 7th, 2010 09:01

Birmingham festival moves to Autumn

"There are not many places where you can listen to funeral doom, prog, folk, avant jazz and grindcore in one weekend," say the good people of Capsule, promoters of the annual Supersonic Festival. They are quite right, of course, which is why this Autumn - note Autumn, not July when it was previously held - the Quietus will be heading up to Birmingham's Custard Factory for the heaviest shindig of the year.

The first band to be announced as playing are the incredible, recently reconstituted SWANS - you can read M. Gira's statement on their return at the foot of this news. For full information about tickets, travel, and hotel deals, please visit the Supersonic website.

We asked Capsule's Lisa how Swans came to be on the bill: "Michael Gira played a solo set at Supersonic Festival 2006, where he managed to hush the crowd into total submission," she tells us. "When we heard that he was thinking of working on Swans material again it was too good an opportunity not to get in touch. Swans have been so influential to so many of the bands that play at Supersonic. Like when Harmonia or Goblin played we always try and show a lineage, where genres have originated from and how they have evolved."

Capsule are remaining cannily tight-lipped about the rest of the line-up, but promise a boneshaking time to all comers, whether Supersonic regulars or virgins. Says Lisa, "Supersonic is all about bringing together a like minded community from all corners of the UK and further afield. There is no hierarchy between bands, audience, journalists, label owners, visual artists, bakers - for one weekend we can all enjoy a great selection of music, exhibitions, talks, a film programme and of course cake in a relatively intimate setting. Best of all because we're based in a city - the weather is not really a factor and tents are no where to be seen." Indeed, cake. John asks, what is the signature cake of Supersonic? "It's always about the Lemon Drizzle."

Finally, here is Michael Gira on the Swans return:

"....there was a point a few years ago during a particular show when I was on tour with Angels Of Light, with Akron/Family serving as the backing band. It was during the song The Provider. Seth’s guitar was sustaining one open chord (very loudly), rising to a peak, then crashing down again in a rhythm that could have been the equivalent of a deep and soulful act of copulation. The whole band swayed with this arc. Really was like riding waves of sound. I thought right then, “You know, Michael, Swans wasn’t so bad after all...” . Ha ha! It brought back – in a flood – memories, or maybe not memories, more a tangible re-emersion in the sensation of Swans music rushing through my body in waves, lifting me up towards what, I can only assume, will be my only experience of heaven. It’s difficult – and probably pointless – to try to describe this experience. It’s ecstatic, I suppose – a force of simultaneous self negation and rebirth. Really, I probably only experienced this a handful of times to such an extreme extent during the entire 15 year history of Swans. All the elements have to align perfectly, and you can’t force it, though you might constantly strive for it. I don’t mean to be too lofty here, but it’s a fact. I’m talking about my own experience of the music (though I’d hope people in the audiences along the way might have experienced a similar episode). When I ask myself if I believe in God, I start to say NO, but then I remember that sensation, and I’m not so sure. So I want more of that, before my body breaks down to such an extent that it won’t be possible any more. So I’m doing it.

"Naturally, some of the material for this new record will be songs, centered around the voice and words. Other parts (I’m hoping) will be reaching for what I’ve described above. One thing I want to point out right now: THIS IS NOT A REUNION. It’s not some dumb-ass nostalgia act. It is not repeating the past. After 5 Angels Of Light albums, I needed a way to move FORWARD, in a new direction, and it just so happens that revivifying the idea of Swans is allowing me to do that. I’ll be using what I learned in the last several years to inform the way this new material develops, while carrying forward from where Swans left off with its final album Soundtracks For The Blind, and in particular, Swans Are Dead. If you have expectations about how Swans should be, that’s your business, but it would be a disservice to both of us if I were to make music with your needs in mind, and the music would certainly suffer as a result. In any event, I certainly never thought this day would arrive, but it’s inevitable, it’s here, it’s fate, so I’m succumbing to it.

"Helping me in this quest are the fantastic musicians and friends listed below. I’ll enter the studio with the songs, we’ll hash them out together, someone will come up with something unexpected, then that will lead to new ideas, the song will take a different trajectory and the material will grow on its’ own. This is what I’m hoping, anyway."

Here’s the main musicians (though probably a lot of guests on the recording). These are the people best suited – in terms of my relationship with them and their particular musical attributes - to help move the music forward : Michael Gira / guitar / voice / mendicant friar act (original swans) Norman Westberg – guitar (original swans) Christoph Hahn – guitar (mid period swans and most angels) Phil Puleo – drums, percussion, dulcimer etc etc (final swans tour and most angels) Chris Pravdica – bass and gadgets (flux information sciences / services/ gunga din) Thor Harris - drums, percussion, vibes, dulcimer, curios, keys, etc etc... (angels, now also with shearwater)"