Swans

Profile:
Swans is a band from New York City, active from 1982 to 1997, reformed in 2010, founded & led by singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Michael Gira.

Marginally associated with the no wave scene at first, their original sound was slow and extremely heavy, with live performances that were often so brutal and physical that in a number of instances certain audience members were made ill, police were called and venues were shut down. This early physical sound is possibly best heard on the live album Public Castration Is a Good Idea.

Their initial style shifted a little by the time Swans released seminal twin albums Greed and Holy Money. The music had sped up, at times being even more punishing than their earlier output. Drum machines and samples were slightly more prominent. Michael Gira was joined vocally by Jarboe which gave the band a broader sonic range. Tracks featuring Jarboe were often quieter, even pretty, acting as counterpoint to the more harrowing themes on the albums. Over time, this style would come to dominate the Swans’ output, although they somehow seem to have been able to make a strummed acoustic guitar seem as brutal as their earlier amped-up assaults. The lush instrumentation of their albums from the late 1980s and the 1990’s anticipated the birth of post-rock.

Swans eventually broke up in 1997; Gira went on to release some solo work, later forming the band The Angels of Light, who continue many of the themes and styles found in (later) Swans. Jarboe releases solo work and frequently works with other bands and artists; recently she released an album with Neurosis, a group clearly heavily influenced by Swans.

In 2010, Michael Gira re-formed the band. A notable change was that post-reunion Swans did not have Jarboe as part of their group, creating tonal differences between post-reunion albums and older albums.
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Albums

ND 03, N11 Swans - Filth album art Swans Filth (Album, Comp) Neutral Records (3) ND 03, N11 Germany 1983 Sell This Version
KCC 1 Swans - Cop album art Swans Cop (Album) K.422 KCC 1 UK 1984 Sell This Version
KSK-860415 Swans - Real Love album art Swans Real Love (Album) Not On Label (Swans) KSK-860415 UK 1986 Sell This Version
KCCM 1 Swans - Holy Money album art Swans Holy Money (MiniAlbum, Album) K.422 KCCM 1 UK 1986 Sell This Version
KCC 2 Swans - Greed album art Swans Greed (Album) K.422 KCC 2 UK 1986 Sell This Version
BURN1 Swans - Public Castration Is A Good Idea album art Swans Public Castration Is A Good Idea (Album) Not On Label (Swans Self-released) BURN1 UK 1986 Sell This Version
GA-212 Swans - Children Of God album art Swans Children Of God (Album) Caroline Records, Product Inc. GA-212 Spain 1987 Sell This Version
Love One CD Swans - Feel Good Now album art Swans Feel Good Now (Album) Not On Label (Swans Self-released) Love One CD UK 1988 Sell This Version
256 438-1, UNI 601 Swans - The Burning World album art Swans The Burning World (Album) UNI Records 256 438-1, UNI 601 Europe 1989 Sell This Version
none Swans - Anonymous Bodies In An Empty Room album art Swans Anonymous Bodies In An Empty Room Not On Label (Swans Self-released) none UK 1990 Sell This Version
YGLP 3 Swans - White Light From The Mouth Of Infinity album art Swans White Light From The Mouth Of Infinity (Album) Young God Records, Young God Records YGLP 3 UK 1991 Sell This Version
YGCD 5B, YG CD 5, RTD 344.0350.2.41, 334.0350.2 41 Swans - Love Of Life album art Swans Love Of Life (Album) Young God Records, Young God Records YGCD 5B, YG CD 5, RTD 344.0350.2.41, 334.0350.2 41 UK & Europe 1992 Sell This Version
none Swans - Omniscience album art Swans Omniscience (Album) Young God Records, Young God Records none US 1992 Sell This Version
DIS CD1 Swans - Kill The Child - 1985,1986,1987 Live album art Swans Kill The Child - 1985,1986,1987 Live (Album) Disaster Records DIS CD1 UK 1995 Sell This Version
YG CD 009 Swans - The Great Annihilator album art Swans The Great Annihilator (Album) Young God Records, Young God Records YG CD 009 UK 1994 Sell This Version
039 Swans - Haltern 1988 album art Swans Haltern 1988 Young God Records 039 US 1996 Sell This Version
YGCD010 Swans - Soundtracks For The Blind album art Swans Soundtracks For The Blind (Album) Young God Records, Atavistic YGCD010 UK 1996 Sell This Version
047a Swans - Tokyo 1989 Day One album art Swans Tokyo 1989 Day One(Cass) Young God Records 047a US 1996 Sell This Version
048 Swans - Lawrence 1989 album art Swans Lawrence 1989(Cass) Young God Records 048 US 1996 Sell This Version
049 Swans - Ljubljana 1992 album art Swans Ljubljana 1992(Cass) Young God Records 049 US 1996 Sell This Version
037a Swans - Boston 1988 album art Swans Boston 1988(Cass) Young God Records 037a US 1996 Sell This Version
053e Swans - Washington DC 1-27-97 album art Swans Washington DC 1-27-97(Cass) Young God Records 053e US 1997 Sell This Version
052b Swans - Berlin 1995 album art Swans Berlin 1995(Cass) Young God Records 052b US 1997 Sell This Version
ALP104CDPR, YG03PR Swans - Swans Are Dead album art Swans Swans Are Dead (Album) Atavistic, Young God Records ALP104CDPR, YG03PR US 1998 Sell This Version
YG43 Swans - My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky album art Swans My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky (Album) Young God Records YG43 US 2010 Sell This Version

Reviews Show All 45 Reviews

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beamish13

beamish13

October 29, 2021
I really wish Jarboe was back in the fold full-time. The band really needs her
flynncooklol

flynncooklol

September 17, 2021
great. the live album adders have found the swans discogs page.
suntangemo

suntangemo

November 13, 2020
Really one of the most original and inventive bands to come around. I remember hearing about them back in the 80s when I was living in NYC and buying Public Castration at a record store on St Marks and getting it home and thinking to myself WTF is this at first listen but that record slowly grew on my like an unholy fungus and I've been a huge fan ever since. Yes its noise, but there is a beauty to it.
Anthon40

Anthon40

September 29, 2019
edited over 2 years ago
The Swans need a break. The current style is getting tedious. Maybe Gira will go back to solo acoustic? That was his best period.
nicksoulsby

nicksoulsby

August 18, 2018
I've been living with the music of Swans some two decades plus and there's STILL always some new detail that enthralls me or a moment of sound so powerful that it hits me hard as a rock to the side of the head. Love it so much I wound up interviewing 125 people Gira, Jarboe, 30+ ex-Swans, Thurston Moore, Bill Laswell...) and creating the book SWANS: Sacrifice And Transcendence - The Oral History. Whole time I was doing it I wound up using Discogs to plug in some rarities or to hear things in different formats and editions...Swans is one of those bands that rewards obsession.
Halo-rez

Halo-rez

July 31, 2018
New To SWANS...
So I've been aware that Swans existed for close to 30 years. I was always curious about them, considering references I'd come across and things I'd read over the years. Always thought I might check them out one day. So about 3 months ago I decided to dive in, and ever since I've been drowning in Swans! I specifically decided to start with the output from the original period (1982-1997) first, with the intention to go to "Angels of Light" next, and then after that dive into the modern era material ("My Father" through "Glowing Man".) To date I have acquired all the albums from the original era, and here are my thoughts so far (keep in mind that I'm still just getting to know some of it)
Swans / Filth / Cop / Young God - OK - Interesting, but I don't love it.
Greed / Holy Money / Children of God- Very good, like it a lot!
Burning World - different, good.
White Light / Love Of Life / Great Annihilator - Love it!
Soundtracks for the Blind - Good, though somewhat disappointed in the lack of "songs" - my most recent purchase, still just getting to know it (2 listens so far)
So based on all that, I ask you... Do I go to Angels of Light next? Or skip straight to the modern era Swans albums?
robert.huffman.311

robert.huffman.311

October 5, 2017
edited over 4 years ago
I never knew SWANS but after hearing Gira's I'm Singing To You From My Room I became a huge fan of anything he's involved with. I like it dark and crazy and he delivers the good!
Bradx

Bradx

May 13, 2017
Saw them in a tiny club in '86 where they filled the room with their own PA so there was hardly any room for an audience. Proceeded to play THEE heaviest skull-crushing noise for about an hour. At points I felt myself moving backwards with the force of the pulverising attack.
My trousers were flapping in the breeze and my face felt like it was melting. The best bit was the near-silence in between each downward smash of brute-force bass. The nearest thing for comparison would be a very scary fairground ride where you don't know if you're going to survive.
I heard later that structural damage was done to the club that night. My ears rang for 3 days.
Nicolas112

Nicolas112

February 22, 2017
The Best band that ever came out and remains the best after these decades!!
rpremi

rpremi

September 25, 2016
A fantastic band that has made some incredible 2-3 hour epics, really hope they will reissue "Soundtracks for the Blind" on Vinyl.

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