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May 27, 2006 | by  | in Music |
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Albums for All Occasions: Nocturnal Emissions

The Burning World
Swans

So last week I’m dreaming: Drinking with friends in this crowded old British pub with the ornate woodwork. I’m ordering at the bar, and when I turn around the clientele has changed. Surrounded by a hideous mass of plague-ridden transients all reeling from drink and moaning low. Bewildered and scared I stagger through, but a beautiful girl in an evening dress catches my eye, beckoning from a side-door. I’m saved. Pulling me into a narrow closet space she tugs at her top revealing shade of a nipple and smiles seductively. Really over-developed canines. I sigh in disappointment; “Fuckin’ vampires.” I stick my thumbs through her eyes as another bloodsucker drops down from the ceiling behind me and it’s on. Then they’re both dead and it’s on again.

If I did manage to find that special vampire girl that I could bed, without having first to behead, the perfect soundtrack would be the most maligned of Swans albums: The Burning World. Considered to be their most compromised effort due to the involvement of Bill Laswell of The Golden Palaminos and released on a major label, it was however the moment the band broke free of expectation. Nothing like the cold rage and industrial stomp of earlier offerings such as Filth or Cop, Laswell added lush world-music instrumentation and encouraged Michael Gira into letting loose his impressive baritone. Like Nick Cave reading from Ian Curtis’ diary, the swelling orchestrations are heart rending Gothic drama for the bleakest of Leonard Cohen fans.

“They found you in Spain/face down in the street/with a bottle in your hand/and a wild smile on your face/and a knife in your back/you died in a foreign land/and they found my letter/rolled up in your pocket/where I said I’d kill myself/if she left again/so now’s she’s gone/and you’re both in my mind/I’ve got one more thing to say/before I’m drunk again/god damn the sun/god damn the light it shines/and this world it shows/god damn the sun”

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