Michael Gira has a habit of posting very entertaining things on Facebook, his one real use of social media. Today he posted the link and info to the newest Swans live album, Not Here/Not Now, each one an autographed and handmade release. It reflects the band’s current live show, which aside from a lengthy version of “The Seer” is entirely made up of new songs that will appear on their currently untitled next album. For the countless new fans Swans picked up from last year’s stunning The Seer who might not know, this is a “fundraiser album” in the same vein as I’m Not Insane and We Rose From Your Bed With The Sun In Our Head which means they work on a sliding pay scale and are designed to fund the recording of the next album (as those did for My Father… and The Seer, respectively.) There’s the now standard $100 dollar donation that names you an “executive producer” on the album (standard policy since their reformation), but go a little higher on the pay scale and stuff gets just plain wacky. Pay $500 for the album and Michael Gira will write and record a brand new song on acoustic guitar, as the site explains, “with customers’ name in the song, praising the customer, his or her ancestors, thoughts, dreams, and future or past lives, forever.” You can go to Gira’s label, Young God, now and pick up a copy of the album, and start to get an idea of what these songs will morph into once the new record comes about. Read Gira’s comment on the record below:
These recordings are a snapshot of Swans at a particular time. The songs (though it’s admittedly a stretch to call some of them “songs”), began one way at the beginning of a year-long tour, and thereafter shifted in shape constantly, sometimes spontaneously during a performance, at other times through revisions (after revisions, after revisions) during sound-check. At least an album’s worth of material was created and then discarded live in this fashion… (If I ever have the time, I’m considering sifting through all the recordings that were made of this tour and creating a special edition album of that material – some versions of the songs on this record bear no resemblance to what’s on these 2 CDs, for instance)… So, the music presented here is at a moment perhaps three quarters of the way through the touring cycle of 2012/13. Things continued to evolve considerably thereafter from what’s presented here, but I think these recordings caught us at a good point. At the time of this writing, we’re going into the studio in a week to record much of this material (as well as material I’ve written that hasn’t yet been played by the band) for a new album, where it will doubtless take on a completely new shape. my main hope, personally, is that I’m surprised with the results at the end.
At this stage of the game, it has been touching, stirring, inspirational, even soul-lifting to see our audiences increasing to such an extent, and to witness people finally, finally, seeming to just open up and share the experience of making these sounds with us. It really is a shared experience, and it feels like you-all are participating with us – though we still “call the shots,” – as it should be! This last bit of touring has been the most gratifying, musically and spiritually, of my life, and I thank you here for making it possible.
As was the case with our last studio album, The Seer, we’re just going to go in the studio now and record endlessly, as a first stage. In this instance, we’ve managed to wrangle a great, live-in studio in the middle of the desert in West Texas. Once the tenure of my friends in Swans is finished there, I’ll remain, recording more with other cohorts, and I’ll travel around a bit, trying to find ways to wrestle the music into a shape that suits it’s core intent (and maybe also contravenes it). I hope the songs change and develop beyond recognition. Along the way I’ll get more friends in to augment the sounds, and then hack at it and add more (always more) until there is no more, then start cutting things away again. I won’t pay any attention to the LENGTH of the thing, in the end, or how long it takes to make – or how many enemies I make along the way – ha ha!. Who knows how long the final effort will be – 2 hours, 3, 4? Maybe it’ll just be a strangled little worm, 10 minutes long. At the end I’ll figure out some way to put it in some sort of format that makes sense. During the last record, I realized, what difference does it make? We’re not exactly trying to make music that’s accessible in the regular music world, so why accept any constraints whatsoever? What’s an “album,” and who cares? People that are inclined to be interested will find it if they want. Just let the music dictate the final shape, nothing else. So I don’t know what will happen. Once the music shows me that it’s had enough of my interference it’ll be done, and that’s it. For that last bit of freedom – the faith you’ve shown in these endeavors – I am sincerely grateful to supporters such as yourself, indeed!
Not Here / Not Now is what has now become known as a “fundraiser” or “crowd-sourcing” CD. I’ve been doing this sort of hand-made release since 2000 (then, with Angels of Light), and with the support of people such as yourself, have been able to record and work at a standard that would have otherwise been utterly impossible. THANK YOU, endlessly! …I also remain grateful that you – our live audience – have felt it worth your while to attend our concerts, and my hope is that you’ve experienced some of the joy we experience while playing this music. THANK YOU, again, endlessly! – Michael Gira / Swans / Young God Records