You may remember, in years past, that I used to put up lists of suitably unsettling songs to play on Halloween. A few years after that, I started expounding on certain tracks -- Throbbing Gristle's "Hamburger Lady" or the Bonzo Dog Band's "11 Mustachioed Daughters," for example -- in greater detail. This year, I've been kinda crazy busy, but I encountered a perfect song for the occasion on my way back from Seattle on Sunday, so here `tis.
Just before my trip, I found myself in a little indie disc shop in Brooklyn near my in-laws' place in Park Slope. I love that this little shop still exists, so I always make it a point to buy something -- even if I'm not looking for anything in particular -- just as a show on support. In this instance, I picked up Black Flag's Who's Got the 10 1/2? (which I owned on cassette for many years) and the most recent album by SWANS, My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope To The Sky. These two albums, I thought, should gamely eat up a bunch of time on my flight.
As it happened, I didn't get to spin the SWANS disc until flying back on Friday night. At the tail end of a long week of conferences and corporate chin-wagging, I was a little exhausted and punch-drunk. The purposely repetitive, engulfing strains of SWANS weren't exactly soothing, but they settled my head into a steady state of manageable torpor. But when the fifth track kicked in, "You Fucking People Make Me Sick," I sat up and listened intently. Provocative title notwithstanding, there was something different afoot. Typically, there is no shortage of disturbing content in the estimable oeuvre of SWANS, but this was slightly removed from all that. With vocals provided by Devendra Banhart and SWANS leader Michael Gira's little son Saoirse Daniel, the song emerges as a lilting, delicate lament-of-sorts. True to SWANS, the lyrics are a bit bleak and chilling, but the fun really begins two-thirds through the track. After the ominous intonation "I love you, Young Flower, Now Give Me WHAT IS MINE!," the song suddenly lurches violently into new territory at 03:12.
The sonic terrain after this point becomes akin to a pointedly unfriendly place where gargantuan dinosaurs rape each other while moaning balefully.