Thor Harris been long been a member of Swans, the noise-rock band whose most recent run albums has produced some of the most darkly powerful music of the 21st century. But this year’s The Glowing Man is the last album by this iteration of Swans, so the various members are beginning to disperse into an even larger array of projects than before. One such endeavor for percussionist Harris is Thor & Friends, an avant-chamber ensemble teaming him with Peggy Ghorbani (marimba) and Sarah “Goat” Gautier (marimba, vibraphone, xylophone, organ, voice, mellotron and piano).
The trio’s self-titled debut album is out next week, but we’ve got an early stream today. It finds Harris leading the ensemble through eerie, meditative passages built largely from percussive instruments, colored by some wind instruments including some custom-invented by Harris. There are also some guest performers — Jeremy Barnes and Heather Trost of A Hawk & A Hacksaw plus John Dieterich of Deerhoof — each of them credited as producers for the further depth and texture they lend to the mix.
Those expecting an extension of Harris’ crushingly heavy work with Swans will discover Thor & Friends to be gentler and more solemn yet intense in its own way. In some ways this music reflects its origins in the Southwest — the band recorded in Albuquerque last February — but it’s also detached from time and space, busy ambient exploration applicable to contexts both active and meditative. Stream the album in full below.
Thor & Friends is out 10/7 via LM Dupli-cation. Pre-order it here.