https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jSdTBGhDSg "Oxygen" is the second single to drop from Swan's latest epic To Be Kind (after last month's stellar, staggeringly funky "A Little God in My Hands"), and it is among the fiercest and most thrilling moments of its two-hour-plus runtime. It is certainly the most thoroughly noisy piece on the project, built on an unwavering no-wave bass groove and skittering drum line - guitars, lap steel, and finally brass falls piling on, amounting to something paradoxically crushing and danceable.
But the icing on the (dense, dense) cake is frontman Michael Gira's vocals, which are at their most manic here, ranging from caveman-esque grunts on the bridge to a nasally call progressing into the second verse - "HEY THEEEEERRE." It's all just so cathartic; as a listener, you get release just from hearing these guys belt this thing out. It's a sort of vicarious thrill that Swans has pretty consistently provided over the course of its now three-decade-long career.
And there's also something to be said of the excitement this song manages to inspire despite the fact it has been kicking around for years in a number of iterations, in Gira's solo acoustic sets, and then the live version that appeared on the limited edition live album Not Here/Not Now late last year. The band's promotional/funding approach for these last few releases has been quite genius, as it has allowed the band to give glimpses of new content as they develop it - tiding us over, but allowing for plenty of surprises on the finished product. For instance, the glorious addition of brass here!
To Be Kind drops May 12 via Young God and Mute. A gentle reminder we loved their last one.