Swans Ready Vinyl Reissue of Filth

Swans live 1986

Swans have announced the long overdue vinyl reissue of their 1983 album Filth. Remastered by Doug Henderson and packaged with repros of two posters from the post-punk era, it’s the full-length’s first authorized pressing in 24 years and a key document of their stomach-churning early days.

“One of the main motivators in our sound was an intense lack of traditional musical skills,” frontman Michael Gira said in a recent self-titled feature that explored Swans’ entire history. “I decided I could make this [makes bomb explosion sound] with a bass and we had two bass players, so we would just sort of trade off, making chunks of sound with rhythm. Totally rudimentary.”

Pre-order your signed copy of Filth here in time for its October 28th release, and look out for more eBay-thwarting reissues from the Swans catalog in the months ahead. In the meantime, here’s a more lengthy statement from Gira about one of his more infamous LPs:

This is all slabs of sound, rhythm and screaming/testifying. What more do you need? In a way, it was a reaction against Punk (and just about any other music you can think of), and the conservative notion that 3 chords were somehow necessary. I used to deny it vehemently at the time, but No Wave (I “hated” that scene too, for some reason I can’t remember now) played a big role as the germ from which this music grew, along with The Stooges and Throbbing Gristle, of course. I wanted Swans to be “heavier” though – I wanted the music to obliterate – why, I don’t remember! I think it just felt good. Live, we used two basses (playing utterly unmusical chords that were stabbed and left to sustain or sometimes hit in staccato or opposing rhythms), drums, a “percussionist” that slammed down on a metal table with a metal strap, crude cassette loops of various sounds/noises (usually some kind of undefined ROAR), and Norman Westberg’s glorious sustained and screaming guitar chords. It was pretty elating to play live – for us. If 100 people showed up (which would have been a huge audience at the time – 20 was more the average), 80 were guaranteed to leave by the second song. Somehow that tension – contempt or indifference from the audience – was nourishing, so we kept going.

Here’s some music I was listening to at the time: Throbbing Gristle, Psychic TV, The Stooges, Brian Eno, Teenage Jesus And The Jerks, DNA, The Contortions, Glenn Branca, Black Flag, early Pink Floyd, This Heat, Kraftwerk, The Germs, Cabaret Voltaire, Can, Public Image LTD., SPK…

Swans - 'Filth' album cover

1. Stay Here
2. Big Strong Boss
3. Blackout
4. Power For Power
5. Freak
6. Right Wrong
7. Thank You
8. Weakling
9. Gang