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Swans - Soundtracks For The Blind CD (album) cover

SOUNDTRACKS FOR THE BLIND

Swans

 

Post Rock/Math rock

4.16 | 61 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Michael Gira had already decided to disband SWANS and this was to be their final album with a farewell tour to follow. He certainly decided they would go out with a bang as this is almost 2 1/2 hours long and about as ambitious a release as I've heard. As far as being influential there are so many Post-Rock bands that point to this album as being their inspiration. This is also the highest rated SWANS album on RYM. Whereas GY!BE's early albums were apocalyptic with the end of the World being the theme, "Soundtracks For The Blind" comes off as being an album that looks deep into the human condition and all the darkness that comes with it. I'm not sure which is more frightening to be honest. This is a dark, experimental, disturbing, chilling work that will leave a mark on you. The line "Filthy with remorse" for some reason sums up a lot of what is on here for me. There are lots of loops, samples and spoken words including many recorded with a hand-held cassette recorder. All of what SWANS had recorded up to this point seems to be touched upon in some measure. Of course this would prove not to be their final album as it was very successful.

Disc one is titled "Silver" and opens with "Red Velvet Corridor" which is an interesting song to start with as we get a soundscape that is electronic-like with no vocals. "I Was A Prisoner In Your Skull" continues with that style until manipulated vocals on a loop arrive. The drums join in and build and the vocals fade. Great sound here. A calm after 3 minutes then spoken words come in that make me laugh. Creepy music joins in a minute later as he continues to speak. "Helpless Child" has this dark and haunting soundscape to start although it does brighten. Reserved vocals 3 minutes in. This is laid back and melancholic. Vocals stop 7 minutes in and the soundscape turns more adventerous. Strummed guitar and organ dominate. Drums after 9 minutes as it starts to build. I like the guitar off in the distance late.

"Live Through Me" is a track I really like, very electronic sounding with strummed guitar a minute in. "Yum-Yab Killers" doesn't even sound like the same band with those Punk-like female vocals from Jarboe and that catchy sound. "The Beautiful Days" features another dark and inventive soundscape. I just love listening to this with the headphones on. So much going on here that plays with my imagination. A child's voice comes in that's on a loop around 3 1/2 minutes. This will stop but come back later. A haunting soundscape takes over late. Spoken words 7 minutes in that are disturbing. "Volcano" is my least favourite song on here. Female vocals with uptempo drumming and pulsating sounds. Just not a fan at all. It's so out of place.

"Mellothumb" has so much atmosphere it's suffocating. I love it! Intensity before 2 minutes. "All Lined Up" opens with what sounds like field recordings on a loop as other sounds join in. Spoken words a minute in then it kicks in hard as these contrasts continue. "Surrogate" is a short piece with some beautiful sounds. "How They Suffer" opens with a chaotic soundscape before Gira's dad comes in speaking about being legally blind, it ends with Jarboe's mom talking about her health issues. "Animus" ends disc one with some beautiful guitar and keys that echo. Reserved vocals arrive that are sad but meaningful. A change 5 1/2 minutes in as the soundscape starts to drown the vocals.

Disc 2 is called "Copper" and it begins with "Red Velvet Wound". Female vocals and a restrained but catchy melody all start to deconstruct before a minute into a experimental soundscape. She stops singing late. "The Sound" is such an influential track to the Post-Rock genre. A psychedelic and relaxed intro with sounds that echo before reserved vocals arrive around 2 minutes. The vocals stop 4 minutes in as the sound becomes more dynamic. Just kicking ass as this continues to build. Suddenly a calm arrives 10 minutes in as we get that opening theme back and the vocals return. "Her mouth Is Filled With Honey" has strange noises and what sounds like an alarm going off. Samples join in. The alarm stops around 1 1/2 minutes as strange noises continue and spoken words arrive. A dark and eerie ending to this one.

"Blood Section" is a catchy instrumental of guitar and drums mostly. "Hypogirl" opens with a demonic scream from Jarboe as she then starts to pretty much speak the lyrics as the guitar is strummed. Not a fan of this one. "Minus Something" has such a cool soundscape as these spoken words arrive that make me smile. Man that is a creepy sound. He stops talking 2 minutes in as the dark soundscape continues. "Empathy" has a slow and mellow sound as reserved vocals arrive speaking the words. When he stops 3 minutes in the music becomes louder but then it calms right down before 4 minutes. Vocals are back a minute later in this dirge-like piece. "I Love You This Much" has a freaky but cool sounding soundscape with all these inventive sounds. It turns almost confusing 3 minutes in like someone on acid not knowing what's going on.

"YRP" has these strange and manipulated vocal sounds to start. A dark and minimalistic sound then takes over as spoken female words arrive after 1 1/2 minutes. She's singing before 3 minutes then she speaks again. Depressing and hopeless words including vocal melodies. Some heaviness after 6 minutes after she says "I'm your property". "Fans Lament" is almost upbeat as we get strummed guitar and drums as male vocal melodies join in. "Secret Friends" opens with what sounds like organ that echoes for about a minute then strummed guitar takes over as vocal melodies join in briefly. "The Final Sacrifice" is a live tune. Keys, percussion, bass and more to start in this laid back and melancholic track. It's building around 2 minutes then these deep male vocals arrive 3 1/2 minutes in. Lots of emotion in these vocals at 6 minutes and especially at 8 1/2 minutes. "YRP2"sounds great to start as some yells arrive that will make your hair standup. "Surrogate Drone" has lots of drones.

I'd love to edit this down to one disc as it would be a five star recording but it is what it is, almost 2 1/2 hours of music that while innovative and influential, it still has it's flaws. A solid 4 stars.

Mellotron Storm | 4/5 |

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