Swans announce new album ‘The Glowing Man’ & tour with Okkyung Lee, share clip of new song
Michael Gira said last year that the version of Swans who have been on a hot streak this entire decade would release their final album in 2016. Now it’s officially been announced. It’s called The Glowing Man, and it’s due out June 17 via Young God/Mute. Like its predecessor, it was produced by John Congleton. Guests include Gira’s wife Jennifer singing lead on”When Will I Return?” and Okkyung Lee playing a cello solo on “Cloud of Unknowing.” As Swans did with all their recent albums, they previewed a chunk of this album at recent shows and some of the songs are on their recent live album The Gate (like standout “Frankie M.”). They shared a two-minute clip of the title track, which you can listen to below.
Though it’s the last album with this version of Swans, Swans is not done. “I’ll continue to make music under the name Swans, with a revolving cast of collaborators,” Gira said in a statement. Read the full statement, and check out the album’s tracklist, below.
Swans have also announced a tour in support of the album, which includes a run with Okkyung Lee opening (maybe she’ll join them on stage for “Cloud of Unknowing”?). That run hits NYC on July 29 at Bowery Ballroom and July 30 at Music Hall of Williamsburg. Tickets for those shows will be on sale soon. All dates are listed below.
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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.
A NOTE FROM MICHAEL GIRA OF SWANS
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 lead 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.
Swans — 2016 Tour Dates
6 July – Philadelphia PA, Union Transfer
7 July – Boston MA, Royale Nightclub
8 July – Providence RI, Fete
9 July – Quebec QC, Le Cercle
10 July – Toronto ON, Danforth Music Hall
12 July – Detroit MI, St Andrews Hall
13 July – Milwaukee WI, Shank Hall
14 July – Minneapolis MN, Fine Line Music Cafe
15 July – Chicago IL, Lincoln Hall
16 July – Chicago IL, Lincoln Hall
18 July – Cleveland OH, Beachland Ballroom
19 July – Cincinnati OH, Woodward Theater
21 July – Louisville KY, Headliner’s Music Hall
22 July – Atlanta GA, Terminal West
23 July – Asheville NC, Orange Peel
24 July – Nashville TN, Exit / In
26 July – Carrboro NC, Cats Cradle
27 July – Richmond VA The Broadberry
28 July – Washington DC, 9:30 CLUB
29 July – New York NY, Bowery Ballroom
30 July – Brooklyn NY, Music Hall of Williamsburg
*with support from Okkyung Lee
1 Sept – Tucson AZ, Rialto Theater
2 Sept – Los Angeles CA, Fonda Theater
3 Sept – San Francisco CA, The Regency Grand Ballroom
4 Sept – Portland OR, Wonder Ballroom
6 Sept – Vancouver BC, Venue
7 Sept – Seattle WA, The Showbox
9 Sept – Salt Lake City UT, Urban Lounge
10 Sept – Denver CO, Gothic Theater
12 Sept – Dallas TX, Trees
13 Sept – Austin TX, Mohawk Austin
14 Sept – San Antonio TX, Paper Tiger
15 Sept – Albuquerque NM, Sunshine Theater
16 Sept – Phoenix AZ, Crescent Ballroom
*with support from Baby Dee
6 Oct – Brussels BE, Oranjerie Botantique
7 Oct – Eindhoven NL, De Effenaar
8 Oct – Brighton UK, Concorde 2
9 Oct – Manchester UK, HMV Ritz
11 Oct – Glasgow UK, Oran Mor
12 Oct – Newcastle Upon Tyne UK, Northumbria University
13 Oct – London UK, Islington Assembly Hall
14 Oct – London UK, Islington Assembly Hall
15 Oct – Reims FR, La Cartonnerie
17 Oct – Hamburg DE, Kampnagel
18 Oct – Berlin DE, Huxleys Neue Welt
19 Oct – Prague CZ, Divaldo ARCHA Theatre
21 Oct – Budapest HU, A38 Ship
22 Oct – Vienna AT, Arena Big Hall
23 Oct – Graz AT, Orpheum Extra
25 Oct – Ljubljana SL, Kino Kiska Centre for Urban Culture
26 Oct – Zagreb HR, Lauba
28 Oct – Basel CH, Kaserne
29 Oct – Vevey CH, Rocking Chair
30 Oct – Bern CH, Reitschule Dachstock
1 Nov – Tourcoin FR, Le Grand Mix
2 Nov – Nimes FR, La Paloma
5 Nov – Bologna IT, Teatro Auditorium Manzoni
6 Nov – Rome IT, Orion Live Club
8 Nov – Nantes FR, Stereolux
9 Nov – Paris FR, Le Trabendo
10 Nov – Cologne DE, Gebäude 9
11 Nov – Munich DE, Feierwerk
12 Nov – Wiesbaden DE, Kulturezentrum Schlachthof