NEM#196: Michael Gira (Swans) Is Not Done

Swans started in the early ’80s in New York with a brutal sound which by the middle of the decade became more subtle and textured. The band broke up in 1995 after ten albums (and three other releases under the name World of Skin), then Michael released a couple of solo albums and six alt-country releases as Angels of Light before starting a new chapter of Swans in 2010 which has now released its sixth album (giving Michael around around 30 overall, plus two short story collections): poetic and direct, acoustically based with a minimalist sensibility but hugely orchestrated to create a wall of sound, and often meditatively lengthy.

We discuss “Michael Is Done” from The Beggar (2023), “It’s Coming It’s Real” from Leaving Meaning (2019), and “Power for Power” from Filth (1983). You then get to hear Michael’s opus “The Beggar Lovers (Three)” that takes up most of the second disc of the new album. Intro: “Screen Shot” from To Be Kind (2014). Hear more at

Some other key moments to fill out your Gira introduction are “Failure” from 1991, “Untitled Love Song” by Angels of Light from 2001, and “The Seer” from 2012.

Watch a very current live show. Here’s a show from 2013 with the previous, long-running live band. Here they are live back in 1987. Here’s a cover tune performed in 1989 when Jarboe was co-lead singer. Watch Michael play solo live in 2022.

Watch a bit of interview footage from 1987. Here’s some interview with concert footage from the ’90s.

Photo by Philip Cosores. Audio editing by Tyler Hislop.

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