Where’s the line between art, creativity and music? For Swans new four-track EP Oxygen, it would seem that there is in fact no line at all, just a blur and mush of sound that will leave it open to the listener’s interpretation. Vocalist Michael Gira flows in and out of what sounds like the ramblings of a wise old drunk man and it becomes purely uncomfortable by the end of the track.
Oxygen is the most uneasy listening of the EP. Although the opening bass guitar riff is captivating and musically, the bare bones of this are the makings of a sensational track, the layers and layers of instrumentation that is seemingly thrown on top of it just makes it sound like the visual equivalent of someone throwing paint at a canvas. That’s not to say no thought went into the writing, more that to the untrained ear, this is just confusing and disorientating.
Oxygen – Live At Primavera has the similar stylings of the former but is a bit more interesting to see how the group converts this ‘noise’ into something more crowd friendly and manages to hold some form of attention. Oxygen – Early Version and Oxygen – Acoustic Version are a great addition to this EP showcasing a more focused side to the madness that ensued. Sounding more psychedelic/country as opposed to concentrated noise. A step back must be taken to appreciate the madness on show here.