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Angels of Light: Sing “Other People”

Angels of Light: Sing “Other People”

Label:Young God Records
Release Date:2005

By Bret McCabe | Posted 5/18/2005

The blurred-out photos that line Sing “Other People” are deadpan advertisements for the 12 songs contained therein. Like the hyper-realistic distorted paintings of Richard Patterson—where impudent, thick-pigment smears are meticulously rendered large-scale—prime Angel of Light Michael Gira’s songs sketch personality portraits that get more and more obtuse as he stitches the details of his character embroidery more and more vividly.

There’s the woman with milk-amber eyes who carried one child and one thought, and now her one decision ripples out in waves (“Lena’s Song”). There’s the hirsute worker with the disturbing drawings and alarming sex drive (“My Friend Thor”). There’s the metaphorical rising dead, there to remind an unnamed presence that “time will not wash the bloody face of history” (“Destroyer”). And in rooms with no walls, in a country nowhere, where the children eat gold, people wait for the appearance of an avenging angel (“Michael’s White Hands”).

These perfectly imperfect stories come center stage because Gira’s voice sounds like a cross-pollination of Johnny Cash hard-lived weariness and Lee Hazlewood high-life airiness, and the arrangements throughout are precarious balances of some ancient, martial folk and a buzzing ambient noise-swell that never crescendos. Trebly walls of banjos and acoustic guitars hover over humming percussions. Strummed-string layers crash into a thundering barrage of wood-block chatter. Pastoral finger-picking bleeds into a sea of bellowed vocal chants. With Akron/Family backing him, Gira unearths a vertigo through intimacy that his Swans achieved with sheer volume years back: a waking-life limbo uncomfortably floating between living nightmare and daydream seduction.

E-mail Bret McCabe

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