SWANS Die Tür Ist Zu (RTD)

This seven track German-language mini album (which at a not-so-mini 55 minutes is longer than some artists’ entire recording careers) heralds the beginning of the end for the Swans’ fifteen years of sonic terrorism, with their final album and tour scheduled for later in 1996. Much of the album comes across as an unholy gothic alliance between the Beatles’ "Revolution 9", the first two Velvet Underground albums, Pink Floyd circa "A Saucerful Of Secrets" and "Ummagumma" and Fripp and Eno’s two collaborations - the tape loops of found sounds, Jarboe’s Nico-with-a-sore-throat vocals and their no-nonsense approach to sonic soundscaping - for example the 23-minute opener "Ligeti’s Breath/Hilflos Kind" - are dead giveaway reference points. When their experimentation works it can be spectacularly effective and eerily chilling, witness "You Know Everything (Reprise 1991)", which sets a child’s narrative against a gentle wash of sound worthy of Spiritualized at their calmest, or abrasive on "M/F", where Jarboe sounds like she’s gargling with paintstripper. Trainspotters may also be interested in the presence of ex-American Music Club guitarist Vudi, and Larry Mullins, apparently on loan from Iggy Pop’s band. Though it’s not exactly packed with perky, hummable tunes, if you’re interested in something unrepentantly experimental, "Die Tür Ist Zü" might well be essential listening.