Once a heaving, fractured and abrasive group of bone-crushing bass and drums, Swans brought a collision of art and nihilism to the scuzzy filth of New York's No Wave scene. Swans consistently blurred the lines of experimental music; graciously exploring the boundaries of gothic, noise, and even ambient music. Their sound culminated in what many consider their magnum opus - the 1996 Soundtracks for the Blind. The band dissolved soon afterward, and lead vocalist Michael Gira formed folk/acoustic group The Angels of Light. Swans faded into obscurity - barely praised, critiqued or even discussed until its reformation in 2009.

Its reformation brought about a new band lineup, with Michael Gira as the only remaining member. Swans was reborn, creating epic dirges of apocalyptic proportions. The band features Christoph Hahn fabricating deranged hums on a lap steel guitar; Thor Harris and ex-Cop Shoot Cop member Phil Puleo spawning tribal requiems on drums, vibes, dulcimer and gongs; Christopher Pravdica exemplifying the pounding and throbbing of early '80s Swans on bass; and long-time Swans member Norman Westberg, crafting ominous lamentations on guitar.

This new iteration of the band was met with critical acclaim for their 2012 and 2014 epics The Seer and To Be Kind. Touring these albums, Swans often played extensive sets that could last from one to two hours. Seeing them live is more than a show, it is a physical and mental experience; it's near-sonic obliteration, with waves of noise and sound that blend together into an apocalyptic hum.

Swans have shared the album title and tracklist for The Glowing Man, released through Young God/Mute Records on June 17, 2016. Check out the tracklist below, as well as a list of tour dates and personal statement from lead man Michael Gira.

The Glowing Man:

01 Cloud of Forgetting
02 Cloud of Unknowing
03 The World Looks Red / The World Looks Black
04 People Like Us
05 Frankie M.
06 When Will I Return?
07 The Glowing Man
08 Finally, Peace.

In 2009 when I made the decision to restart my musical group, Swans, I had no idea where it would lead. I knew that if I took the road of mining the past or revisiting the catalog, that it would be fruitless and stultifying. After much thought about how to make this an adventure that would instead led the music forward into unexpected terrain, I chose the five people with whom to work that I believed would most ably provide a sense of surprise, and even uncertainty, while simultaneously embodying the strength and confidence to ride the river of intention that flows from the heart of the sound wherever it would lead us - and what’s the intention? LOVE!
And so finally this LOVE has now led us, with the release of the new and final recording from this configuration of Swans, The Glowing Man, through four albums (three of which contain more complexity, nuance and scope than I would have ever dreamed possible), several live releases, various fundraiser projects, countless and seemingly endless tours and rehearsals, and a generally exhausting regimen that has left us stunned but still invigorated and thrilled to see this thing through to its conclusion. I hereby thank my brothers and collaborators for their commitment to whatever truth lies at the center of the sound. I’m decidedly not a Deist, but on a few occasions – particularly in live performance – it’s been my privilege, through our collective efforts, to just barely grasp something of the infinite in the sound and experience generated by a force that is definitely greater than all of us combined. When talking with audience members after the shows or through later correspondence, it’s also been a true privilege to discover they’ve experienced something like this too. Whatever the force is that has led us through this extended excursion, it’s been worthwhile for many of us, and I’m grateful for what has been the most consistently challenging and fulfilling period of my musical life.
Going forward, post the touring associated with The Glowing Man, I’ll continue to make music under the name Swans, with a revolving cast of collaborators. I have little idea what shape the sound will take, which is a good thing. Touring will definitely be less extensive, I’m certain of that! Whatever the future holds, I’ll miss this particular locus of human and musical potential immensely: Norman Westberg, Kristof Hahn, Phil Puleo, Christopher Pravdica, Thor Harris, and myself mixed in there somewhere, too.
I wrote the song “When Will I Return?” specifically for Jennifer Gira to sing. It’s a tribute to her strength, courage, and resilience in the face of a deeply scarring experience she once endured, and that she continues to overcome daily.

The song “The World Looks Red / The World Looks Black” uses some words I wrote in 1982 or so that Sonic Youth used for their song “The World Looks Red,” back in the day. The music and melody used here in the current version are completely different. While working up material for this new album, I had a basic acoustic guitar version of the song and was stumped for words. For reasons unknown to me, the lyric I’d so long ago left in my typewriter in plain view at my living and rehearsal space (the latter of which Sonic Youth shared at the time) and which Thurston plucked for use with my happy permission, popped into my head and I thought “Why not?” The person that wrote those words well over three decades ago bears little resemblance to who I am now, but I believe it remains a useful text, so “Why not?”. Maybe, in a way, it closes the circle.

The song “The Glowing Man” contains a section of the song “Bring The Sun” from our previous album, To Be Kind. The section is, of course, newly performed and orchestrated to work within its current setting. ‘The Glowing Man’ itself grew organically forward and out of improvisations that took place live during the performance of “Bring The Sun,” so it seemed essential to include that relevant section here. Since over the long and tortured course of the current song’s genesis, it had always been such an integral cornerstone I believe we’d have been paralyzed and unable to perform the entire piece at all without it.

”Cloud of Forgetting” and “Cloud of Unknowing” are prayers. “Frankie M” is another tribute and a best wish for a wounded soul. “The Glowing Man” contains my favorite Zen Koan. “People Like Us” and “Finally, Peace” are farewell songs.

— Michael Gira


North America

7/6 - Philadelphia PA, Union Transfer

7/7 - Boston MA, Royale Nightclub

7/8 - Providence RI, Fete

7/9 - Quebec QC, Le Cercle

7/10 - Toronto ON, Danforth Music Hall

7/12 - Detroit MI, St Andrews Hall

7/13 - Milwaukee WI, Shank Hall

7/14 - Minneapolis MN, Fine Line Music Cafe

7/15 - Chicago IL, Lincoln Hall

7/16 - Chicago IL, Lincoln Hall

7/18 - Cleveland OH, Beachland Ballroom

7/19 - Cincinnati OH, Woodward

7/21 - Louisville KY, Headliner's Music Hall

7/22 - Atlanta GA, Terminal West

7/23 - Asheville NC, Orange Peel

7/24 - Nashville TN, Exit / In

7/26 - Carrboro NC, Cats Cradle

7/27 - Richmond VA, The Broadberry

7/28 - Washington DC, 9:30 CLUB

7/29 - New York NY, Bowery Ballroom

7/30 - Brooklyn NY, Music Hall of Wiliamsburg

9/1 - Tucson AZ, Rialto Theater

9/2 - Los Angeles CA, Fonda Theater

9/3 - San Francisco CA, The Regency Grand Ballroom

9/4 - Portland OR, Wonder Ballroom

9/6 - Vancouver BC, Venue

9/7 - Seattle WA, The Showbox

9/9 - Salt Lake City UT, Urban Lounge

9/10 - Denver CO, Gothic Theater

9/12 - Dallas TX, Trees

9/13 - Austin TX, Mohawk Austin

9/14 - San Antonio TX, Paper Tiger

9/15 - Albuquerque NM, Sunshine Theater

9/16 - Phoenix AZ, Crescent Ballroom

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