My Father Will Guide Me up a Rope to the Sky

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My Father Will Guide Me up a Rope to the Sky
Studio album by Swans
Released September 23, 2010 (2010-09-23)
Recorded 2009–2010
Genre Experimental, post-rock, art rock, minimalism, ambient
Length 44:21
Language English
Label Young God
Producer Michael Gira
Swans chronology
Forever Burned
(2003)
My Father Will Guide Me up a Rope to the Sky
(2010)
We Rose from Your Bed with the Sun in Our Head
(2012)
Limited edition re-release
A dark red splatter with the word "NO" written in white on a white background
Released in 2010

My Father Will Guide Me up a Rope to the Sky is the eleventh studio album by Swans released on September 23, 2010;[1] it is their first studio recording in 14 years. Swans founder Michael Gira funded the recording of this album by creating the limited-edition album I Am Not Insane and chose several collaborators from previous Swans line-ups as well as his side project Angels of Light to record and tour for this album. My Father Will Guide Me up a Rope to the Sky has received positive critical feedback for the return of Swans as well as the rich spiritual themes of the lyrics.

Recording[edit]

In a 2009 interview, Gira hinted at the prospect of resurrecting the Swans project.[2] Later that year, many of the tracks that would appear on My Father Will Guide Me up a Rope to the Sky were released in demo and acoustic form on I Am Not Insane and sold in order to fund the recording process for this album. Gira handmade 1,000 copies of that album to fund the new Swans recordings.[3] In January 2010, Gira amended the band's Facebook and MySpace to read "SWANS ARE NOT DEAD"—an announcement that the band had been reformed as well as a play on words from Swans' live album Swans Are Dead.

Gira wrote the songs over a three-year period and decided that they were unfit for an Angels of Light album and he wanted to transition back the aggressive sound and "sonic intensity" of Swans;[4] he briefly considered releasing the material as an Angels of Light/Swans split album, but decided against it.[5] After Gira financed the album through sales of I Am Not Insane, he got together a group of musicians to record with him in New York. Each song—with the exception of "You Fucking People Make Me Sick"—was recorded in 12-hour daily studio sessions that culminated in nighttime overdubs.[6]

In deciding to reform Swans, Gira attempted to create a continuity between the band's last studio album—1996's Soundtracks for the Blind—as well as his subsequent work with Angels of Light;[7] for instance, the song "My Birth" includes lyrics written in 1997 originally for Swans.[8] The line-up of Swans that recorded this album features Gira, Christoph Hahn, Phil Puleo, and Norman Westberg from prior Swans releases as well as Gira solo collaborators Thor Harris and Christopher Pravdica; this is the first Swans album that does not feature Jarboe since her debut on 1986's Greed.[8] Gira chose these musicians in part for how they would work together touring to promote this album[9] and has created a distinct sound for Swans, emphasizing rhythm and the interplay between atmospheric instruments such as dulcimer, tubular bells, and vibraphone.[10]

Gira contacted Italian artist Beatrice Pediconi to handle all of the artwork for the album after seeing her pieces in Harper's Magazine. The special edition of the album has a cover that mirrors the album artwork of I Am Not Insane.

Themes[edit]

The title of the album comes from the lyrics to a then unreleased Swans song entitled "Oxygen" (which was later released on To Be Kind) that depicts Gira dying and ascending to Heaven[11] and several reviewers have noted spiritual themes on the album.[12] Tiny Mix Tapes sums up its review with, "The real bravery is for an album whose title equates religion with suicide to end almost at the other end of the spectrum: 'Teach me please, to cease to resist,' Gira asks. 'May I find my way to the reason to come home/ May I find my way to the foot of your throne.'"[13] Gira's interest in spirituality developed with this album and his goal was to create music, "to elevate, to make you levitate, almost like having it erase your body and lift you up to Heaven."[14]

Promotion[edit]

Swans touring in 2010 to promote My Father Will Guide Me up a Rope to the Sky

In addition to releasing I Am Not Insane, Gira has promoted the album by offering it for free streaming on the Internet,[15] made a demo version of the song "No Words" available on the band's MySpace page,[16] and has reorganized Swans for their first tour since 1997.[7] Tour dates are slated to be performed in the United States and Europe, including headlining the Supersonic Festival in October 2010[17] and Gira intends to tour for 18 months.[8]

Gira has also remixed the album with the intention of selling that version on tour and through the band's web site.[5]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 83%[18]
Review scores
Source Rating
A.V. Club A[19]
Drowned in Sound 8/10[20]
Mojo 80/100[21]
NME 9/10[22]
No Ripcord 10/10[23]
Pitchfork Media 7.7/10[24]
PopMatters 9/10[25]
The Scotsman 4/5 stars[26]
Spin 8/10 stars[27]
Sputnikmusic 4/5[28]
Allmusic 4/5 stars [29]
Tiny Mix Tapes 4.5/5[13]

My Father Will Guide Me up a Rope to the Sky is rated an 83 with "universal acclaim" by Metacritic.[18] The A.V. Club gave the album an A, calling it "a leviathan of an album" and commenting on the similarities and differences that this album has with the rest of Swans' catalogue, saying that it "resembles all of Swans' previous work, yet none of it." BBC Music has declared it "a majestic return and, let us hope, a harbinger of more to come."[30] The Big Takeover has remarked that the album "encompasses all of the original band's many moods."[31] In its December issue, The Wire listed My Father Will Guide Me up a Rope to the Sky as the third best album of 2010.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Michael Gira

  1. "No Words/No Thoughts" – 9:24
  2. "Reeling the Liars In" – 2:20
  3. "Jim"[32] – 6:46
  4. "My Birth" – 3:52
  5. "You Fucking People Make Me Sick" – 5:08
  6. "Inside Madeline" – 6:36
  7. "Eden Prison" – 6:03
  8. "Little Mouth" – 4:12
Bonus disc available on the special edition
  1. "Look at Me Go" – 46:07
A collection of studio outtakes mixed into one track

Personnel[edit]

Swans
Additional musicians
Additional personnel
  • Beatrice Pediconi – artwork
  • David Perry – layout
  • Kevin S. McMahon – engineering, processing, mixing
  • Jamal Rhue – mastering
Bonus disc
  • Brian Carpenter – horns
  • Michael Gira – artwork
  • Jason La Farge – strings, engineering
  • Christoph Hahn – guitar
  • Hunter Hunt Hendrix – guitar
  • Kevin S. McMahon/Marcata Recording – engineering, mixing, mastering

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Michael Gira on Swans' My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky". The Quietus. July 30, 2010. Retrieved 2010-09-23. 
  2. ^ "Swans To Reform? Michael Gira Live at the Oxfam Café". Brainwashed. May 3, 2009. 
  3. ^ Bilton, Chris (September 29, 2010). "Swans: resurrected by the fans". Eye Weekly. Retrieved 2010-09-29. 
  4. ^ Currin, Grayson (September 24, 2010). "Michael Gira and Swans head back into the maelstrom of sound". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-09-24. 
  5. ^ a b Zivitz, Jordan (September 29, 2010). "The full conversation: Jordan Zivitz and Michael Gira". The Montreal Gazette. Retrieved 2010-09-29. 
  6. ^ a b c d e Gira, Michael (July 30, 2010). "Track-by-track: Michael Gira On Swans' My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky". The Quietus. Retrieved 2010-09-23. 
  7. ^ a b Stousy, Brandon (January 11, 2010). "Swans Reforming, Touring, Recording". Stereogum. Retrieved 2010-09-23. 
  8. ^ a b c Ratliff, Ben (September 16, 2010). "Interview: Michael Gira, musician". The Scotsman. Retrieved 2010-09-23. 
  9. ^ Robinson, Iann (September 26, 2010). "Swans Frontman Michael Gira (Part 1)". CraveOnline. Retrieved 2010-09-26. 
  10. ^ Ratliff, Ben (October 11, 2010). "Loud and Middle-Aged, But It’s Not a Reunion". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-10-15. 
  11. ^ Robinson, Iann (September 26, 2010). "Swans Frontman Michael Gira (Part 2)". CraveOnline. Retrieved 2010-09-26. 
  12. ^ Arnold, Daniel (October 13, 2010). "Gen F: Swans". The Fader. Retrieved 2010-10-15. 
  13. ^ a b Morris, David (September 20, 2010). "Music Review: Swans – My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky". Tiny Mix Tapes. Retrieved 2010-09-23. 
  14. ^ Guthrie, Kayla (October 12, 2010). "The Undertaker: Swans' Michael Gira". Interview. Retrieved 2010-10-15. 
  15. ^ Hockley-Smith, Sam (September 20, 2010). "Stream: Swans’ Album My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky". The Fader. Retrieved 2010-09-23. 
  16. ^ Stousy, Brandon (July 21, 2010). "Swans My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky Album Info". Stereogum. Retrieved 2010-09-23. 
  17. ^ Stousy, Brandon (May 10, 2010). "Swans To Play Brooklyn Masonic Temple". Stereogum. Retrieved 2010-09-23. 
  18. ^ a b "Critic Reviews for My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky". Metacritic. Retrieved 2010-09-23. 
  19. ^ Heller, Jason (September 21, 2010). "Swans: My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky". A.V. Club. Retrieved 2010-09-21. 
  20. ^ Gardner, Noel (September 20, 2010). "Releases / Swans – My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved 2010-09-23. 
  21. ^ My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky Review, Mojo (London, England, United Kingdom: Bauer Media Group) (203), October 2010: 104, ISSN 1351-0193 
  22. ^ Turner, Luke (September 24, 2010). "Swans — Album Review: Swans — My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky — Album Reviews — NME.COM". NME. Retrieved 2010-09-26. 
  23. ^ Caldwell, Sean (September 21, 2010). "Music Rewviews: My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky". No Ripcord. Retrieved 2010-09-23. 
  24. ^ Harvell, Jess (September 22, 2010). "Pitchfork: Album Reviews: Swans: My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 2010-09-23. 
  25. ^ Beasley, Corey (September 28, 2010). "Swans: My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky < PopMatters". PopMatters. Retrieved 2010-09-28. 
  26. ^ Shepherd, Fiona (September 21, 2010). "Album review: Swans, My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky". The Scotsman. Retrieved 2010-09-23. 
  27. ^ Kornhaber, Spencer (September 9, 2010). "Swans, 'My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky' (Young God)". Spin. Retrieved 2010-09-23. 
  28. ^ "Swans My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky (staff review)". Sputnikmusic. September 21, 2010. 
  29. ^ Jurek, Thom. "Music Review: Swans – My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-02-16. 
  30. ^ Pattison, Louis (September 13, 2010). "BBC – Music – Review of Swans – My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky". BBC Music. Retrieved 2010-09-23. 
  31. ^ Toland, Michael (September 20, 2010). "Swans – My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky (Young God)". The Big Takeover. Retrieved 2010-09-23. 
  32. ^ "Michael Gira On Swans' My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky". The Quietus. July 30, 2010. Retrieved 2012-12-28. 

External links[edit]