Michael Gira’s Swans are one of the most innovative, influential, and enduring bands in the American rock underground. Formed in 1982 by Gira, the music of Swans defies easy categorization or pigeonholing – is it art-rock? Avant-garde? Experimental noise rock or post-punk? It’s all of these things and much more but, most importantly, it’s the sonic weapon with which Gira explores his immense creativity. Swans’ music may not always be pretty, and it always defies expectations, but it’s never less than a challenging, thought-provoking experience.
On April 28th, 2017 Swans’ ninth studio album, The Great Annihilator, will be reissued stateside by Young God Records and worldwide by Mute Records. The 1995 album will be released as both a two-disc CD and double vinyl set, and will also include Gira’s debut solo album, Drainland, which was recorded at the same time (the vinyl version of The Great Annihilator includes a download code for Drainland). The Great Annihilator was re-mastered by Doug Henderson after Swans’ member Bill Rieflin tracked down DATs and cassettes containing un-mastered mixes from the original recording sessions.
The band line-up for The Great Annihilator features Gira on guitar and vocals; the ethereal vocals of Jarboe, who also plays keyboards; bassist Algis Kizys, drummer Ted Parsons, and guitarists Bill Rieflin, Clinton Steele, and Norman Westberg. “I have long been uneasy with the sound of the mastered version of The Great Annihilator (and its companion, contemporaneous solo album, Drainland),” says Gira on the Young Gods website. “For whatever reason, things drifted out of hand at the time, and there was never enough time or money to untangle the sonic knots created by the original unsatisfactory mastering that took place until now.”
Continuing, Gira says “it was with the utmost alacrity that I received the news recently from my friend Bill Rieflin that he had discovered the original (after much digging), unmastered mixes for both albums in his archives. We were able to proceed now with lovingly mastering both The Great Annihilator and Drainland from these virgin sources, with our right hand mastering man Doug Henderson in Berlin, Germany. I have to say I'm rather pleased with the result. It’s one of those instances where it's like hearing the thing for the first time again. I hope you enjoy the experience.”
The Great Annihilator is the latest in a series of re-mastered reissues of Swans’ music, the 1995 album following the first vinyl reissue of Swans’ debut, Filth, along with a deluxe three-disc version of Filth that includes the original album, Swans’ debut EP, vintage live recordings, and more. You can order The Great Annihilator and other Swans’ music from the Young Gods Records website, where you can also check out some rave period reviews of Swans albums.