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Recording:
  Everything Is Good Here/Please Come Home  
 
Artist:
  Angels of Light  
 
Label:
  Young God  
 
Release Date:
  4.March.2003  
 
Reviewed by:
  Kharybdis  
         
 
Rating:
   
         
 
Review:
 

When I sat down 2 months ago (Brendanís going to skin me) to review the newest Angels of Light album, Everything Is Good Here/Please Come Home, I thought it was going to be a simple task. After all, I have a deep appreciation for all things Gira, though more unkind folks might deem the level of my interest unhealthy. But whatís important is that Iím familiar with the manís work. Iíve enjoyed the tribal/industrial bludgeoning of Cop and Body to Body/Job to Job from the early Swans. I absolutely revel in the layered, damp swath of The Great Annihilator and Soundtracks for the Blind. I blazed through Giraís text, The Consumer, and slipped into overwhelmed sleep listening to The Body Lovers. And when Angels of Light released New Mother and How I Loved You, I devoured these gems, embracing the new direction in which Michael Gira was taking his music.

So, I figured I could jump right into the new album, immerse myself in it, and have a thoughtful review done in a few days.

Man, was I wrong.

The thing is this: I couldnít pick up a pen/pencil/keyboard/etc. and just start writing because I couldnít stop listening to this album. This is not music you can listen to a couple of times and then proceed to pick apart for praise or derision. And you certainly canít write while listening to this album. The music requires your attention. It seizes it, and doesnít let go.

Thereís a strong connection between the Angels of Light live album, We Were Alive, and this new album. Gira used the proceeds from the sale of We Were Alive (750 limited issue) to fund Everything Is Good Here/Please Come Home, and that connection is reflected in studio versions of four tracks from the live album (Nations, All Soulsí Rising, What Will Come, and What You Were). The differences between the versions of these tracks echo the differences between most of Giraís live work and his studio work. Giraís live shows always sound more primal and powerful than his albums. His voice is generally more pure and intimate live, as if the eyes of the crowd act as a confessional for Gira to pour himself into. The music, on the other hand, is usually more blurred -- the edges of sound less sharp than on the studio albums.

The studio version of What Will Come features Giraís voice straining over the drown of instrumentation. It contains a delicate interaction of sound that seems less threatening than the power of the We Were Alive version.

What You Were is polished -- the music really shines on the studio version. Giraís voice isnít as intimate as on the live version, though.

All Soulsí Rising is one of the most compelling things Angels of Light has done to date. Itís barely controlled chaos. The live version is more plodding than driving and has less obvious structure, but the song is still one of Angels of Lightís most powerful.

Nations showcases Gira experimenting with the power and rhythm of language set to his trademark hypnotic backdrop. The pure power of this song will make it one of Giraís standards, clamored for at every show.

The other tracks on Everything Is Good Here/Please Come Home illustrate the range of Giraís musical style. Sunset Park and Wedding are hypnotic, layered hymns while Rose of Los Angeles (one of the albumís absolutely stellar tracks) spins maniacally out of control like a 1930ís cartoon depicting a carnival on acid (think Fritz the Cat).

Palisades is intimate and delicate -- a lament for the freedom and innocence that is torn from us (ďWhere is the girl that once lived in you?Ē). The theme of loss is repeated in The Family God, a heartbreaking portrait of a woman enslaved in the shackles of marriage/family -- subverting her personality, dreams and ambitions until all sheís doing is ďcounting the time, filling the glass.Ē

And Kosinsky, the albumís third trackÖ I just want to close my eyes and float away on this song. Itís possibly the most beautiful melody Gira has ever shared with his listeners.

Giraís music has always exhibited power, brutality, and grace (usually all at once), and Everything Is Good Here/Please Come Home follows in that vein. But it also serves to inform the listener that Giraís music is continuing to evolve, to change, and invites you to come with it. Gira has said that Everything Is Good Here/Please Come Home is one of the best things he has ever done. I canít say I disagree with him.

 
         
 
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