The Brooding Goes On For Swans On Re-Releases

The entire miserable catalog will be reissued.

Before Swans leader M. Gira officially folded his eternally dark

group last year with the release of their, um, double-disc swan song,

Soundtracks for the Blind, he set up a deal with Chicago indie label

Atavistic Records to re-issue a swarm of archival Swans material that should

keep fans busy for years to come.

First up on the re-release schedule are

classic Swans titles, Children of God and World of Skin, both

just out, and both remastered and repackaged, in the same fashion as

Soundtracks, in a

lush two-disc Digi-Pak set. And, according to Atavistic label impresario Kurt

Braden, they are just the first in a planned series of re-issues of the entire

Swans catalog on the band's Young God Records imprint.

Children, the

band's best-seller ever and the album that signaled a change of direction

toward a more acoustic sound, incorporating piano, flute and 12-string guitar

("In My Garden") and the use of the studio as an instrument ("Like a Drug"),

also marked the blossoming of Gira's foil, Jarboe, into the forefront, thanks

to her eerie, breathy vocals on a number of songs, including the creepy

"Blackmail". The re-issue of Skin should shake Swanophiles out of their

eternal misery, if only for a moment, since that collection (released in two

parts in 1986 and 1988) has long been unavailable in the U.S. and is compiled

here for the first time in a remastered 16-track version. (The albums were

briefly available in the U.S. through Rough Trade, just before that company


"If you've had 15 illustrious years...

"If you've had 15 illustrious years performing and

recording as the Swans have," said Braden, of the career arc that ended last

year, "you have all kinds of records and different states of ownership and

states of satisfaction with mastering jobs and packaging. Our mutual goal with

these re-issues was to bring them up to the same deluxe level as Soundtracks

for the Blind."

What that means is a double CD digi-pak, over 70

minutes of remastered sound on each, a metallic ink finish and

artfully-designed booklets with original artwork. "For Children of God

it's the most exciting," said Braden, "since it's been out of print the longest

and it was really the album that brought them international attention and led

to their major-label debacle with MCA. It's the album that really made people

take notice of the band, so it's exciting to have it out again for the first

time in five years."

As for the pairing of Children with World

of Skin, Braden said the combination works because both albums come from

the 1986-88 era and also because Skin has never had a proper release in

the U.S., since it was released just as its distributor, Rough Trade, was going


Next up is the Swans' earliest work, a two-disc set of their first

EP (1982), the album Filth (1983) and Body to Body, Job to Job

(1991). That will be followed later in the year by a set chronicling the years

1984-86 featuring Cop, Raping a Slave, Greed and Holy

Money. Atavistic/Young God will also oversee the release of The

Somniloquist, an M. Gira spoken word album of readings from the singer's

2-13-61 (Henry Rollins) imprint book of short stories, The Consumer.

And, as if that isn't enough misery, there will eventually be a Jarboe

solo compilation and any number of new releases from Gira's two new post-Swans

projects, the Body Lovers, an ambient venture Braden described as "like

Soundtracks without words" and the Pleasure Seekers, a more acoustic


Additionally, Young Gods will be releasing work by a number of

still-unannounced artists, including "some exciting Scandinavian bands and some

American acts," according to Braden, many of whom are "using guitars for

ambient purposes."

And, lastly, the fall will bring a double-live Swans CD

covering the years 1995-97, including some unreleased material the band played

live but never committed to plastic.