Angels Of Light
Welcome all, please be seated, the service of the church of the Angels Of Light is about to begin. We hope your sitting uncomfortably, this will take a while, there will be no breaks but once we have finished you will all be cleansed of the filthy sins that riddle your sorry souls.
A fair introduction I feel to this, the sixth album by Michael Gira's Angels Of Light. But as Gira's previous work with Swans was unrelenting in it's post-punk avant-guard ferocity We Are Him holds you tight with an unnervingly quiet intensity and bores deep into your being with slow, controlled focus. Musically it's the lightest and most accessible of all his work adopting an Americana flavor but instead of jaunty, thigh slapping hoe-downs it's more like stumbling across a time-forgotten town way down the Mississippi where everyone seems hell-bent on saving your soul. Claims like "I am the god of this fucking land," has Gira sounding like a twisted preacher who listens to too much Nick Cave. He employs a pattern of repetition in his writing that aims to mesmerize and hypnotize and it's very effective from the word go. Black River Song's heavy, pounding rhythm and booming vocals take you by the hand and lead you down to the water for the baptism to begin. Promise Of Water uses a subtler musical approach but the intent is the same. behind Gira's deep vocals is a throng of chanting backing voices like the towns folk carrying you aloft to your salvation. But after this dark introduction you can almost feel your soul getting lighter as The Man We Left Behind has a majestic swell to it as if stepping out of your riddled body and walking forward into the light. Gira's vocals are lighter and for a minute you feel that the job's done and just as you're about to exclaim, "well that wasn't so bad,'" My Brothers Man sits you down firmly and tells you that that was just stage one, and the wailing commences
Gira's vocals are complimented beautifully by the use of the female voice. Seen most effectively in Not Here/ Not Now they come at you like beckoning sirens, seductive and enticing. They provide a much needed richness to this sound. But one of the most thrilling aspects about this album and most of Gira's work is its unpredictability. After all this mournful seduction the title track resounds like a twisted, hand waving celebration as it frolics like a possessed gospel choir, and they march on in this manner throughout Sometimes I Dream I'm Hurting You but just as you start to enjoy yourself this song turns a scary corner, a corner that really should have been predicted by the song's title. Gira's repeated vocals take on a frenzied urgency and it's clear that your exorcism is in its final stages as he becomes possessed by the demons that pour forth from your lifeless body.
But hey, don't let that put you off, it's a journey we all have to make and no matter what the outcome it's a thrilling ride. It's a work of dark, hypnotic beauty that keeps you blindfolded all they way. It's heavy yet seductively charming and a real high point in this artists expanding career.