Filth album cover


Neutral Records

On their full-length debut, Michael Gira’s Swans project was a pounding, low-end-fixated (two basses, two drummers) purgative ritual. Drummers Jonathan Kane and Roli Mosimann beat out repetitive interlocking patterns as Gira and Harry Crosby clanged out single bass chords in unison. Norman Westberg’s guitar was a slashing sheet metal sound floating amid the din. The focus, of course, was on Gira’s hostile, slogan-like lyrics, which explored violence, domination, and power, mostly from the perspective of the abject (but willing) victim (“Big Strong Boss,” “Weakling,” “Power For Power”). A few simple production tricks like squiggling tape effects and the fact that “Big Strong Boss” cuts off suddenly, mid-syllable, give the music even greater impact, making Filth an occasionally disorienting and generally unpleasant listening experience, but one you can’t help coming back to.

Phil Freeman

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