Following on the heels of the The Great Annihilator, the Swans, M. Gira and Jarboe have each created solo projects. For M. Gira‘s self-produced Drainland, he enlists the talents of Bill Rieflin and Jarboe. Jarboe‘s Sacrificial Cake was recorded in New York’s East Village with musical contributions by Michael Evans (who has worked with Elliot Sharp and other luminaries) and Larry Seven (who has worked with the Swans). The album was written, performed and produced by Jarboe with musical additions and productions from M.Gira.
Swans are considered one of the most influential NYC bands to come out of the early 80’s. Co-conspirators, M. Gira and Jarboe (now re-located to rural Georgia), continue to create fiercely individualistic music of varied and colliding textures and moods. Their astonishing output since Swans inception in 1982 has seen them progress constantly, veering wildly from proto-industrial grind, to slab-of-noise militant disco, to darkly ambient acoustic songs and back again – ripping apart all genres.
Although Swans have always kept their distance from their contemporaries in the “underground,” the mainstream and the music industry in general, they have influenced countless bands. Paradoxically they abandon each sound or approach as they feel it constricting into a familiar or predictable style. In their prolific output as Swans, and other related projects (see discography), this need to challenge themselves and their audience leads them to move past the standard bass-guitar-drums. Both Gira and Jarboe incorporate everything from acoustic guitars, pianos, nail guns, full string sections, Indian oboes, mellotrons, organs to choirs of backwards vocals, accordions, baglamas, tape loops, samples and sheet metal.
Founder/producer/singer M. Gira and his longtime collaborator/co-singer/co-arranger Jarboe now see Swans not as a band, but as a free venue for doing projects like Drainland and Sacrificial Cake without having to inhabit the tiny world of conventions inherent in the usual “rock band” line-up. The thread running through it all will always be their genuine commitment to stretching their limits (and by extension, the listener’s limits) – a rare trait these days in a musical environment highly infected with narrow marketing strategies and instantly co-opted “rebellion.”
Dr. Jane Sarrazin, renowned professor of Music Studies, offers this description of Jarboe‘s newest aural endeavour: “Ambient soundscapes and wrathful diatribes are ingredients for Sacrificial Cake, a provocative and eccentric collection of new work from Jarboe which takes even more risks lyrically, sonically and vocally than her previous solo albums, Thirteen Masks and Beautiful People Ltd. In conjunction, M. Gira‘s Drainland showcases his depth as a songwriter and his ability to construct simultaneously beautiful, expansive and horrific tapestries of sound. “Gira, a lugubrious songwriter on par with Ian Curtis, has a way of hitting the lyrical nail on the head with one deft slam of hammer… His words are disturbed expulsions of fear and anger that take on a sarcastic, bitter tone” says Puncture Magazine. Both recordings are essential.