Swans

Greed

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Featuring two bassists -- Crosby and newcomer Algis Kizys -- and no less than three drummers -- Gonzalez, Ted Parsons, and Ivan Nahem -- Greed marks the initial turning point of Swans towards more varied and ultimately even more astonishing musical heights than the early records, which were aggressive beyond all words, ever indicated. The opening track "Fool" demonstrates as much, being almost wholly piano-based, though the portentous echo of the notes along with grinding guitar noises underlying Gira's ever-more commanding, raspy singing (as opposed to shouting) mean that it's all still very much Swans. An increasing spaciousness and sense of more stripped-down arrangements also show up, along with some slightly more active tempos. "Anything for You" has Gira's strangled wail of earlier days, but the music is a little calmer, a little more restrained; "Stupid Child" uses a delicate playing of cymbals as effectively as the expected slow percussion rumbles. Lyrically, unsurprisingly, things are little different from before, with images of utter self-loathing, power, domination, and economic corrosion of the soul dominating Gira's words, though at times interesting new elements creep in as well. On "Heaven," for instance, Gira resignedly sings of a "heaven" which could be that of dying victims or of exhausted lovers, a fascinating double image. Jarboe makes her presence known on a number of songs, most effectively on the title track, where her wordless background vocals constantly loop in and out of the mix (notably, despite the title, Gira here sings of emotional isolation rather than the monetary greed expected given such other songs on the album as "Money Is Flesh," a slightly calmer semi-cousin to "Time Is Money (Bastard)").

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