Soundtracks for the Blind is the tenth studio album by Swans, and the last released until 2010's My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky. It was released as a doubleCD in 1996, through Young God Records. Soundtracks for the Blind was intended, as suggested by the title, to function as a sort of "soundtrack for a non-existent film", and was at the time by far Swans' most varied studio effort.
On the composition of Soundtracks for the Blind, frontman Michael Gira said in 1997:
I've always been interested in different sounds like that and listened to Brian Eno and different kinds of music that use non-musical sources often, and as I made this record I had a lot of that material: those loops and things I'd made from '81; I had vocal loops that Jarboe had made in 1985 on a little sixteen second digital delay unit which was actually the first sampler... we had these tape narrations we'd been collecting, that she got from her father's desk when he was an FBI agent – surveillance tapes; I interviewed my father because I'm interested in his life, and took a little snippet of his experiences... then we had new things we'd recorded with our 'band' from the last tour; and some stuff we did for a soundtrack for a film. I threw all those into the computer and assembled it that way. So, in some things, there's something from 1981 playing simultaneously with something from '85 playing simultaneously with something from 1996. It's cross-faded and blended and mixed so to speak in the computer, cut-up and sometimes looped and reversed.
Soundtracks for the Blind has been met with acclaim by critics. Terrorizer magazine wrote, "Gira has painstakingly recorded and produced this magnus [sic] opus with a ferocious attention to detail. Above all, it sounds phenomenal".AllMusic called Soundtracks for the Blind "[Swans'] best album ever".