The Burning World (album)

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The Burning World
Studio album by Swans
Released 1989
Genre Art rock, neofolk
Length 44:13
Label Uni
Producer Michael Gira, Bill Laswell
Swans chronology
Feel Good Now
The Burning World
Anonymous Bodies in an Empty Room

The Burning World is the sixth studio album by American post-punk band Swans. It was released in 1989, through record label Uni; the band's only major label release. The album features a major stylistic shift from their past releases, being very tuneful and accessible compared to the bleak, industrialized sound from their past records.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Michael Gira, except "Can't Find My Way Home", written by Steve Winwood

No. Title Length
1. "The River that Runs with Love Won't Run Dry"   4:16
2. "Let it Come Down"   4:28
3. "Can't Find My Way Home"   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"   4:24
8. "Jane Mary, Cry One Tear"   3:51
9. "See No More"   5:30
10. "God Damn the Sun"   4:23


The album reportedly sold only 5,000 copies in the UK,[1] and the band was dropped by Uni not long afterward.

In 2011 Michael Gira stated, "I abhor that record. Bill Laswell is a very good producer, but we didn't mesh well. I was intimidated and sang in this cramped, monotone way. It didn't sell, and we got dropped."[1] The album was reissued on CD by Water Records in 2012.[2]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 2.5/5 stars[3]

AllMusic wrote, "Ultimately, Burning sounds more like a compromised major label Laswell project than a Swans album, to its overall detriment", calling the album a "general disappointment".[3] On the other hand, Trouser Press was favorable, writing "The Burning World benefits a great deal from the world music instrumentation and structural abilities Laswell brings to it. The arrangements are uniformly strong, the gentler sounds don't strike one as a compromise and the cover of Blind Faith's "Can't Find My Way Home" is both apt and surprising", ultimately calling the album "a nice one that's almost as haunting as it wants to be."[4]


  • Bill Laswell – production, bass guitar
  • Bruce Calder – recording
  • Martin Bisi – recording
  • Robert Musso – recording
  • Jason Corsaro – mixing
  • Oz Fritz – engineering assistance
  • Howie Weinberg – mastering
  • DZN, The Design Group – sleeve artwork
  • Vartan – sleeve art direction
  • Wim V. D. Hulst – back cover photography
  • Robert Mapplethorpe – front cover photography (Calla Lilly)


  1. ^ a b Mojo (208): 56. March 2011. 
  2. ^ ""Swans - The Burning World" on Amazon". Retrieved 8 October 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Raggett, Ned. "The Burning World – Swans : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards : AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved March 3, 2013. 
  4. ^ Leland, John; Sheridan, David; Kenny, Glenn; Frampton, Scott. " :: Swans". Retrieved March 3, 2013. 

External links[edit]