Sometimes it doesn’t matter what band someone is in, their music will speak to you. When Harry Wright and Robin Stewart were in The Naturals their experimental dubby shoegaze worldview was intoxicating. It made you want to spend long periods of time in darkened rooms being almost deafened by their sub bass attacks.
Now with Giant Swan’s debut self-titled album, Wright and Stewart have followed The Naturals sonic assault to the next logical place. The guitars have been replaced with drum machines, samplers and an unrelenting feeling of unease. But what did you expect from a group who has had releases on Howling Owl, FuckPunk, Timedance and Whities?
‘Giant Swan’ opens with the monster single ’55 Year Old Daughter’. What Giant Swan has done here is lay their cards on the table. It effectively says everything you need to know. Massive beats. This is avant-garde techno, but without any of the pretensions. There are no wanky overtones just the most primal elements of techno and with base experimentalism arrangements. Oh, and plenty of bass too. It is a terrifying glimpse into the psyche of two musicians who know exactly what they want to do and are bored of anodyne music.
If you were thinking “That’s it. They’ll calm down now” ‘Pandaemonium’ shows they aren’t. It might not be as caustic as the opener, but it’s just as visceral. As ‘Giant Swan’ progresses things get more abstract. ‘Weight of Love’ just feels like a collection of beats and blips thrown together with buzzsaw basslines and atmos.
On one had you’d be right, but on the other it is a well-orchestrated composition. There are catchy melodies that just drag you in, much like the minions of Zuul who drag Dana Barrett into her fridge in Ghostbusters. You try to resist, but there isn’t anything you can do to stop it.
The album ends with ‘Spisbah’ which feels like something Carlo Gesulado would have released if he’d been into techno, had pro-tools and some smart drugs. The distorted vocals are one of the most terrifying things on the album. It feels like the ideal book end to the bombastic ’55 Year Old Daughter’. While that track was all about overwhelming you with noise, and bass, ‘Spisbah’ is about giving you time to catch your breath before a period of contemplation to try and workout what you’ve just experienced.
This is an album for anyone who thought that Blanck Mass had gone soft and poppy. For anyone who thinks that Lightning Bolt has lost their touch and anyone who has ever wanted a group to push things as far as they logically can, without the music being jeopardised. Yes, at times it is ungainly and crosses over that line into sheer noise, but it never stays there too long as Giant Swan is all about the tunes, despite all the distressed window dressing.
Words: Nick Roseblade
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