On June 17, Swans will release their new album, The Glowing Man. It’s intended to be the last Swans album to feature the band’s current lineup, as announced late last year. That’s the album’s artwork above.
Frontman Michael Gira released this statement about some of the songs on the album:
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.
News of this new Swans album comes after an unsettling couple of months of news regarding Gira, who was accused of rape by former collaborator Larkin Grimm. Gira strongly denied the claim, issuing a statement that they had a “consensual romantic moment that fortunately was not consummated.” It’s been a sad and confusing situation, and one that doesn’t become any clearer over time.
The first music Swans have shared from the album is an excerpt of the title track, which you can stream below. The Glowing Man follows 2014’s To Be Kind.
Swans The Glowing Man tracklist:
1 Cloud of Forgetting
2 Cloud of Unknowing
3 The World Looks Red / The World Looks Black
4 People Like Us
5 Frankie M.
6 When Will I Return?
7 The Glowing Man
8 Finally, Peace.