Swans Return with 'The Glowing Man'

Swans Return with 'The Glowing Man'
New York outfit Swans have revealed that their "final album" in their current iteration is heading our way soon. Titled The Glowing Man, the album arrives June 17 through Young God Records/Mute.

The eight-song effort was tracked with producer John Congleton and is the group's first studio effort since 2014's To Be Kind. That said, some of the material had appeared on last year's The Gate live release ("Frankie M.," "Cloud of Forgetting"), while other sections may be familiar to listeners as well.

According to a lengthy statement from Swans leader Michael Gira, the album's "The World Looks Red / The World Looks Black" uses lyrics he had written in the early '80s and were also used in Sonic Youth's "The World Looks Red." Meanwhile, the title track reinterprets a section of To Be Kind's "Bring the Sun," and he's described other songs as "prayers" and called "Frankie M." a "tribute and a best wish for a wounded soul."

You'll find a teaser stream of "The Glowing Man" at the bottom of the page, where you'll also find all Swans upcoming tour dates.

Gira had previously explained that this will be the final album to feature the lineup of himself, guitarist Norman Westberg, pedal steel player Kristof Hahn, percussionist Thor Harris, drummer Phil Puleo and bassist Christopher Pravdica. His latest statement notes that he'll continue making music under the name Swans, but with "a revolving cast of collaborators."

You'll find his statement in full down below.

In 2009 when I made the decision to restart my musical group, Swans, I had no idea where it would lead. I knew that if I took the road of mining the past or revisiting the catalog, that it would be fruitless and stultifying. After much thought about how to make this an adventure that would instead led the music forward into unexpected terrain, I chose the five people with whom to work that I believed would most ably provide a sense of surprise, and even uncertainty, while simultaneously embodying the strength and confidence to ride the river of intention that flows from the heart of the sound wherever it would lead us - and what's the intention? LOVE!

And so finally this LOVE has now led us, with the release of the new and final recording from this configuration of Swans, The Glowing Man, through four albums (three of which contain more complexity, nuance and scope than I would have ever dreamed possible), several live releases, various fundraiser projects, countless and seemingly endless tours and rehearsals, and a generally exhausting regimen that has left us stunned but still invigorated and thrilled to see this thing through to its conclusion. I hereby thank my brothers and collaborators for their commitment to whatever truth lies at the center of the sound. I'm decidedly not a Deist, but on a few occasions – particularly in live performance – it's been my privilege, through our collective efforts, to just barely grasp something of the infinite in the sound and experience generated by a force that is definitely greater than all of us combined. When talking with audience members after the shows or through later correspondence, it's also been a true privilege to discover they've experienced something like this too. Whatever the force is that has led us through this extended excursion, it's been worthwhile for many of us, and I'm grateful for what has been the most consistently challenging and fulfilling period of my musical life.

Going forward, post the touring associated with The Glowing Man, I'll continue to make music under the name Swans, with a revolving cast of collaborators. I have little idea what shape the sound will take, which is a good thing. Touring will definitely be less extensive, I'm certain of that! Whatever the future holds, I'll miss this particular locus of human and musical potential immensely: Norman Westberg, Kristof Hahn, Phil Puleo, Christopher Pravdica, Thor Harris, and myself mixed in there somewhere, too.

I wrote the song "When Will I Return?" specifically for Jennifer Gira to sing. It's a tribute to her strength, courage, and resilience in the face of a deeply scarring experience she once endured, and that she continues to overcome daily.

The song "The World Looks Red / The World Looks Black" uses some words I wrote in 1982 or so that Sonic Youth used for their song "The World Looks Red," back in the day. The music and melody used here in the current version are completely different. While working up material for this new album, I had a basic acoustic guitar version of the song and was stumped for words. For reasons unknown to me, the lyric I'd so long ago left in my typewriter in plain view at my living and rehearsal space (the latter of which Sonic Youth shared at the time) and which Thurston plucked for use with my happy permission, popped into my head and I thought "Why not?" The person that wrote those words well over three decades ago bears little resemblance to who I am now, but I believe it remains a useful text, so "Why not?". Maybe, in a way, it closes the circle.

The song "The Glowing Man" contains a section of the song "Bring The Sun" from our previous album, To Be Kind. The section is, of course, newly performed and orchestrated to work within its current setting. 'The Glowing Man' itself grew organically forward and out of improvisations that took place live during the performance of "Bring The Sun," so it seemed essential to include that relevant section here. Since over the long and tortured course of the current song's genesis, it had always been such an integral cornerstone I believe we'd have been paralyzed and unable to perform the entire piece at all without it.

"Cloud of Forgetting" and "Cloud of Unknowing" are prayers. "Frankie M" is another tribute and a best wish for a wounded soul. "The Glowing Man" contains my favorite Zen Koan. "People Like Us" and "Finally, Peace" are farewell songs.


Earlier this year, singer-songwriter Larkin Grimm posted an open letter accusing Gira of sexual assault. Gira would later release a statement that alluded to the night in question from 2008 as a "consensual romantic moment that fortunately was not consummated." Grimm responded that "this was still rape" and issued a single of her own called "I Don't Believe."

The Glowing Man:

1. Cloud of Forgetting
2. Cloud of Unknowing
3. The World Looks Red / The World Looks Black
4. People Like Us
5. Frankie M.
6. When Will I Return?
7. The Glowing Man
8. Finally, Peace.

Tour dates:

04/05 Warsaw, PL - Pardon, To Tu *
04/07 Berlin, DE - Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz *
04/08 Copenhagen, DK - Jazzhouse *
04/09 Oslo, NO - John Dee Club *
04/10 Bergen, NO - Bergen Kunsthall at Landmark Bar *
04/11 Amsterdam, NL - Paradiso Upstairs *
04/13 Brussels, BE - AB Small Club *
04/15 Paris, FR - Le Point Ephémère *
07/06 Philadelphia, PA - Union Transfer #
07/07 Boston, MA - Royale Nightclub #
07/08 Providence, RI - Fete #
07/09 Quebec, QC - Le Cercle #
07/10 Toronto, ON - Danforth Music Hall #
07/12 Detroit, MI - St Andrews Hall #
07/13 Milwaukee, WI - Shank Hall #
07/14 Minneapolis, MN - Fine Line Music Cafe #
07/15 Chicago, IL - Lincoln Hall #
07/16 Chicago, IL - Lincoln Hall #
07/18 Cleveland, OH - Beachland Ballroom #
07/19 Cincinnati, OH - Woodward Theater #
07/21 Louisville, KY - Headliner's Music Hall #
07/22 Atlanta, GA - Terminal West #
07/23 Asheville, NC - Orange Peel #
07/24 Nashville, TN - Exit/In #
07/26 Carrboro, NC - Cats Cradle #
07/27 Richmond, VA The Broadberry #
07/28 Washington, DC - 9:30 CLUB #
07/29 New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom #
07/30 Brooklyn, NY - Music Hall of Williamsburg #
09/01 Tucson, AZ - Rialto Theater ^
09/02 Los Angeles, CA - Fonda Theater ^
09/03 San Francisco, CA - The Regency Grand Ballroom ^
09/04 Portland, OR - Wonder Ballroom ^
09/06 Vancouver, BC - Venue ^
09/07 Seattle, WA - The Showbox ^
09/09 Salt Lake City, UT - Urban Lounge ^
09/10 Denver, CO - Gothic Theater ^
09/12 Dallas, TX - Trees ^
09/13 Austin, TX - Mohawk Austin ^
09/14 San Antonio, TX - Paper Tiger ^
09/15 Albuquerque, NM - Sunshine Theater ^
09/16 Phoenix, AZ - Crescent Ballroom ^
10/06 Brussels, BE - Oranjerie Botantique
10/07 Eindhoven, NL - De Effenaar
10/08 Brighton, UK - Concorde 2
10/09 Manchester, UK - HMV Ritz
10/11 Glasgow, UK - Oran Mor
10/12 Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK - Northumbria University
10/13 London, UK - Islington Assembly Hall
10/14 London, UK - Islington Assembly Hall
10/15 Reims, FR - La Cartonnerie
10/17 Hamburg, DE - Kampnagel
10/18 Berlin, DE - Huxleys Neue Welt
10/19 Prague, CZ - Divaldo ARCHA Theatre
10/21 Budapest, HU - A38 Ship
10/22 Vienna, AT - Arena Big Hall
10/23 Graz, AT - Orpheum Extra
10/25 Ljubljana, SL - Kino Kiska Centre for Urban Culture
10/26 Zagreb, HR - Lauba
10/28 Basel, CH - Kaserne
10/29 Vevey, CH - Rocking Chair
10/30 Bern, CH - Reitschule Dachstock
11/01 Tourcoin, FR - Le Grand Mix
11/02 Nimes, FR - La Paloma
11/05 Bologna, IT - Teatro Auditorium Manzoni
11/06 Rome, IT - Orion Live Club
11/08 Nantes, FR - Stereolux
11/09 Paris, FR - Le Trabendo|
11/10 Cologne, DE - Gebäude 9
11/11 Munich, DE - Feierwerk
11/12 Wiesbaden, DE - Kulturezentrum Schlachthof

* Michael Gira solo
# with Okkyung Lee
^ with Baby Dee