Wednesday, June 27, 2012

SWANS - "The Burning World" CD

I'm pretty certain Michael Gira didn't anticipate, nor "green light" this 2012 reissue of Swans' infamous 1989 major label album. And for collectors or fans, it offers little over the original pressing aside from a louder remastering. I'd have liked to see the single B-sides, at least, appended for a more complete experience, but that's nitpicking.

It's been well-documented before many times. Gira and company were signed to MCA/Uni, and with the addition of an outside producer, Bill Laswell, they came up with this selection of 10 folk/world songs. Coming on the heels of the bands' sprawling, scalding masterwork, "Children Of God", this mellow, moody, and melodic set was subjected to numerous declarations of "sellout". And though it produced one of Gira's most memorably haunting songs ("God Damn The Sun"), the singles "Saved" and "Can't Find My Way Home" didn't find themselves charting much anywhere. 

Years later, many still consider "The Burning World" a blemish within Gira and company's illustrious catalog. Gira himself has outright refused to reissue this, aside from some odd bits included on his "Various Failures" compilation, and a very limited handmade redux called "Forever Burned", which also sold out quickly and now fetches large sums itself.

"The Burning World" isn't a terrible effort. On the contrary, it's a strong one, but it also needs to be seen for what it is --  a turning point, a very public transition where Gira, Jarboe, and Westberg would shed their previous image. They would eventually resolve to rebuild the band's legacy several years later with the double-album epics "White Light From The Mouth Of Infinity" and "Love Of Life", and that legacy continues today, stronger than ever.

So, while this reissue may not be fully "official", newer fans unable to obtain a reasonably-priced original will find it's an appealing alternative. Let's just hope Water/Universal compensates Young God Records for this one. (Water/Universal)

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