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Various Failures
Various Failures
Genres: Dance & Electronic, Alternative Rock, Pop, Rock
  •  Track Listings (17) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (17) - Disc #2


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CD Details

All Artists: Swans
Title: Various Failures
Members Wishing: 3
Total Copies: 0
Label: Young God Records
Original Release Date: 4/13/1999
Release Date: 4/13/1999
Genres: Dance & Electronic, Alternative Rock, Pop, Rock
Styles: Ambient, Indie & Lo-Fi, American Alternative, Progressive, Progressive Rock
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaCD Credits: 2
UPCs: 658457000625, 0658457000625, 4015698945126

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CD Reviews

Just Plain Scary.
Scott Sweet | Colorado Springs, CO | 02/12/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"If you're new to Swans: These are the songs Johnny Cash would sing after killing his children in their sleep. These are the songs Mrs. Cash would sing after deciding he did the right thing. They'd sit in the dark, and wait for God's judgment. Melodramatic? Sure, but I'm tellin' you..."Various Failures" showcases Swans in their Old Testament folk-rock period. After the first several releases, they moved away from death-march discord into more conventional music. There's easily more wrath and despair in Swans than in any other band I've heard. Michael Gira sings of a world where human life has no value ("Was He Ever Alive?", "Failure," "The Childs Right") and the only effective diversion is devouring the weak. Jarboe is the queen of oblivion ballads ("Song for Dead Time," "When She Breathes," "I Remember Who You Are").This album, along with 1996's "Soundtracks for The Blind," makes me wonder if there wasn't some actual possession going on; it couldn't ALL be done through vivid imagination alone. The stories are so intense, the music so skillful, and the cd packaging so inspired that "Various Failures" remains a powerful example of Swans in its middle age. Plus, Jarboe does some cool covers ("Black Eyed Dog," "Can't Find My Way Home," and "Love Will Tear Us Apart"). Do not listen to this stuff in the dark."
"You can bank your hard earned money on Failure."
Dansa | 02/27/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"The Swan's apocolyptic epic double disc collection is arranged like a regular lp and the illusion holds up well. Gira's vocals are wise but ultimately souless, sounding like the weary teachings of an empty shell of a man who has lost all reason to live years ago. His lyrics paint a portrait of a world where the sun, love, and God no longer offer comfort, a world where human life is nothing but a meaningless blip on the radar of time and nature. During her songs, Jarboe's more expressive operic vocals often serve as a break from Gira's nihilism though she is equally effective accenting his songs with atmospheric haromonizing.

While the vocals are at the forefront, the Swans are almost just as interesting musically. Employing a minimalist approach the music often lurches with dark strumming accoustic guitars and ringing synth melodies that alternate between eerie and hammering. The result is a menacing intimate sound that threatens to suffocate the listner like a slowly lowering ceiling. This album can indeed be truly terrifing.

In her cover of "Black Eyed Dog", Jarboe transforms the dreary saddness of the original into a hellish, assaulting nightmare. While songs like "Was He Ever Alive?" are just as unsettling in a more unnerving cerebral way with Gira's hollow voice pondering the finality of death and the insignifance of life while the God of the Old Testament offers no answers, just violence and cruelty as he unleashes his curses on the Egyptians.

But there are rare moments of beauty as well. "Picture of Maryanne" in particular rises out of the oceans of despair with its haunting strings and gentle tribal percussion as Gira's vocals are delivering in a more soothing comforting manner. The country ballad, "God Damn the Sun" is indeed mournful but there is hope in that Gira is expressing a human emotion that he previously seemed incapable of. While Jarboe's memorable cover of "Love Will Tear us Apart" is shockingly bittersweet and peaceful. And of course the opener, "Miracle of Love" is a masterpiece of rising tension that greatly contrasts with the rest of the album's deliberate sluggish pace.

But the true highlight is the powerful "Blind", dealing with regret and the enlightenment of age. Gira's vocals are mostly a stoic drone but when he sings "I'm Blind" his voice breaks into this single delicate held note that manages to convey all the sorrow the protagonist/himself has been carrying over the years. This song alone makes this album a worthy purchase but buyer beware, the entire album is a very tough and patient listen that you have to be in a certain kind of mood for.

Years of love
Michael J Harper | Covina, CA United States | 01/21/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I've owned this double album for 3 years and only love it more with the passage of time. Not since the band "Neurosis" have I felt music more in the quietest places of my mind that continue to encant such calm and depth in the loudest crashing of thunder.Swans are amongst the deepest places you'll ever look for music and you'll find a world of music open to you. You will find Michael Gira and his "Angels of Light" and just the end of last year you get to hear Jarboe with Neurosis(the 2 making a perfect collaboration) and many solo albums and projects along the way for both Jarboe and Michael Gira.The music of Swans in this album is so warm. Swans become the warmth of the darkness. Never a cold and lonely place to be. The acoustic guitars, keyboards and drums all lend so much while the beats will pound like thunder and the gentle elegant melodies give way to an enrapture of intensity completely unexpected lending the listener a new set of ears. Most people that are new to Swans will like them in the most uncertin way. Like all things that are worth thier time should require time, Swans go slowly and directly into your darkness and remain as friends."