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Swans The Burning World album cover
3.42 | 22 ratings | 2 reviews | 9% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1989

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The River That Runs With Love Won't Run Dry (4:14)
2. Let It Come Down (4:28)
3. Can't Find My Way Home (Steve Winwood Cover) (4:48)
4. Mona Lisa, Mother Earth (4:16)
5. (She's A) Universal Emptiness (4:02)
6. Saved (4:11)
7. I Remember Who You Are (4:23)
8. Jane Mary, Cry One Tear (3:51)
9. See No More (5:30)
10. God Damn The Sun (4:20)

Total time 44:03


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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Michael Gira / vocals, guitar, arrangements, co-producer
- (Jane) Jarboe / vocals, keyboards, arrangements
- Norman Westberg / guitars, arrangements

- Jeff Bova / keyboards
- Bill Laswell / bass, co-producer
- Jason Anses / bass
- Virgil Moorfield / drums
- Trilok Gurtu / tabla
- Aiyb Dieng / percussion
- Karl Berger / vibes, string arrangement & conducting
- Fred Frith / violin
- Mark Feldman / violin
- Larry Packer / violin
- John Kass / viola
- Richard Carr / viola
- Garo Yellin / cello
- Nicky Skopelitis / baglama, bouzouki
- (Lakshminarayana) Shankar / double violin
- Bernard Fowler / backing vocals
- Fred Fowler / backing vocals

Releases information

Artwork: Robert Mapplethorpe (photo) with M. Gira (design)

CD UNI Records ‎- UNID-601 (1989, US)

Thanks to The Truth for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Water 2012
Audio CD$12.99
$12.95 (used)
The Burning World by Swans (2012-03-20)The Burning World by Swans (2012-03-20)
Audio CD$31.74

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SWANS The Burning World ratings distribution

(22 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(9%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(32%)
Good, but non-essential (36%)
Collectors/fans only (23%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

SWANS The Burning World reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by TCat
3 stars Just what kind of sound are you looking for from the Swans on this album? Is it the wall of dirty noise from the early days or is it the prog post punk from the more recent sound? Well if it's either one of these, you won't find that sound here. This one is very different from any sound they have produced so far. Coming off the success of their cover of "Love Will Tear Us Apart", Swans were signed to a major label, and this was an attempt of recording accessible music. What resulted was a sort of post punk indie folk rock, which really isn't as bad as some would have you believe, but which doesn't always hold up very well. Think of alt-country performed by Bauhaus and you'll get a pretty good idea of how this sounds. No prog here, I'm afraid. But the songs that work really sound pretty good.

Things start out sounding really promising and interesting. Michael Gira sings most of the songs on here in his usual deep Bauhaus sounding voice. The first two tracks make you think that this is a legitimate attempt, but the cover of the Blind Faith song "Can't Find My Way Home" as sung by Jarboe is really lacking any emotion or direction and just plain sounds boring. Next comes "Mona Lisa, Mother Earth" which reminds me of an early "Dead Can Dance" sound, back when they were gothic, except with the stronger vocals of there present sound, and it works well. Then there is some aimless wandering in the middle of the album. The next vocal by Jarboe is another great song and it sounds much better and believable than her other attempt on this album. The rest of the tracks on the album are more of the same with some substandard unfocused songs with a few minor highlights.

When I finish listening to this album, I feel like for the most part, I've heard a lot of music that was a decent attempt at accessible music as much as Swans could make accessible music. Michael Gira is not happy with this album and says there wasn't a lot of communication between the members during the recording of the album which results in it's unfocused and unemotional feeling. I think he might be a little hard on himself, there are some good songs here if you are looking for more of an indie-folk or alternative country sound, but not all of them are good. The substandard songs are exactly that. I would say half is good and successful at what they were trying to do , but the other half do bring the quality of the album down. One thing for sure, it is very hard to believe this is the same band that produced the extremely loud, churning and chunky music from their previous albums. So, if you are not looking for prog, then you, like me, would probably find this good, but non-essential. Half good, half bad, no prog.

Review by Warthur
4 stars Swans' The Burning World tends to get a bad rap, probably because it's a fairly straightforward and accessible- sounding album that lands between their early, abrasive post-punk releases (which had come to a culmination on Children of God) and White Light From the Mouth of Infinity, which tends to be held up as the best of Swans' goth rock period.

And yet, this intriguing mingling of gothic rock tropes and acoustic influences, which at points borders on neofolk, is really far more interesting than more dismissive critics have made it out to be. Yes, it's unusually mellow and accessible as far as Swans go, and yes, as a major label debut it was probably deliberately pitched that way, and yes, they probably hyped up the goth angle due to the success of their cover of Love Will Tear Us Apart by Joy Division, and yes, supposedly even Michael Gira dislikes this.

But despite all, this doesn't feel like a sell out to me. Perhaps that's because a genuine "sell out" tends to come across as cheap and tawdry in some respect, and that certainly isn't the case here - if anything, Swans give it their all and take the material and style seriously, and enjoy the aid of a range of intriguing guests, including Fred Frith and Material's Bill Laswell. It might not quite be Michael Gira's personal vision of what Swans should be, but it's a damn fine piece of music nonetheless.

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