I lost interest to a large extent in Angels of Light after the second album. From then on it seemed to become very folksy (for want of a better word) not particularly exciting or dynamic and the whole essence of what I liked about Michael Gira seemed to have disappeared into complacency. I could of course be very wrong and perhaps he was putting his all into what he was doing but it seemed to my ears to be a second rate Gira we were hearing. So when I heard “Black River Song” from “We Are Him,” I was surprised. The passion, energy and dynamics that I felt had been lost had returned and the sound was fuller more powerful and certainly worth exploring.
It’s a much richer sound, there’s power here not dissimilar to what you’d have expected from a Swans album around the time of “White Light…” It opens with Black River Song which is centred around a powerful 4/4 thud with Gira reciting his lyrics over a repetitive riff with a bass sound reminiscent of Algis Kizys time in Swans coupled with female backing vocals exceedingly Jarboe like. It’s an incredible opener. We switch immediately to a much mellower country-ish almost track but the dramatic change in pace and intensity work well. The whole album seems to be a mixture of hard followed by soft rather like the Children of God album.
This is a side of Gira I really enjoy. I much prefer this to any of the recent Angels of Light albums that seemed too much to want to head down the road that Devendra Banhart had travelled. I always found Gira’s intensity was what drew me in to his music and he seemed to have tried to move away from that. I’m glad he’s moving back in that direction again.