Swans are using a lot of folk music influences this time out, which adds an interesting element to the proceedings. When I say folk music, I am talking about the real hardscrabble old stuff of Harry Smith’s Anthology Of Folk Music, not the Kingston Trio. “Jim” seems to bring up the ghost of Leadbelly‘s “Where Did You Sleep Last Night,” while “Reeling The Liars In” is a deceptively simple protest lament a la Woody Guthrie.
The latter half of My Father reminds me a lot of the latest by Current 93, Aleph At Hallucinatory Mountain. The music and the lyrical content both convey a tone of searching, and ultimately of redemption. “Eden Prison” is an especially notable example. The sheer aggressive power that Swans are noted for is never far from the surface, at times appearing in short bursts to punctuate things. On “You Fucking People Make Me Sick” the group just lets it rip, using everything they have to build a song of nightmarish intensity.
There are a number of guests appearances, but the oddest one has to be from Devandra Banhart. This is a guy who I never would have expected to find on a Swans record, although he did do a great job.
My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky is a tour de force, as all good Swans albums have been. The many different musical styles the group incorporate give it something of a travelogue feel, a tour of their collective musical tastes in a way. It is one I will certainly be listening to again, and one that I recommend to anyone who has an interest in music that exists a little outside of the mainstream.