The CD release Indemnity 2 is the second in a trilogy featuring intimate reinterpretations of songs by Swans and World Of Skin, and new ones written exclusively for the project. Besides three new compositions, Indemnity 2 revisits material from Holy Money (1986), The Burning World (1989), Ten Songs for Another World (1990), The Great Annihilator (1994) and the Gira solo album Drainland (1995).

Instruments are sparingly employed on these resculpted masterpieces as Jarboe’s voice reveals all facets of its spectral, tender and terrifying splendour. Indescribable soundscapes arise from the music’s polyphonic textures – vocal overtones and harmonic fusions of voice and instrument. The overall sound is refined and richly allusive; except for the closing track nothing here is inaccessibly experimental or unbearably intense.

A burst of Jarboe’s contralto opens The Child’s Right, a wrenching lament which first appeared on Ten Songs For Another World where MG performed lead vocal. Acoustic guitar is the main accompaniment, lightly embellished by keyboards and wind instruments. Tension is maintained throughout by sustained modifications in pitch and vocal register.


Distorted words – glossolalia or reverse speech – open this “Mr Sandman” and resurface throughout. A type of lullaby, Unreal has a dreamlike quality accentuated by the virtuoso vocal performance and spectacular choral arrangement. The original, from the album Drainland, hints at the glossolalic expression at the start and in the backing vocals; tinkling piano and straightforward balladry by MG characterize the track. This Indemnity interpretation lifts the song into wider spatial dimensions.

Words fail when it comes to the majestic Saved. If there is chamber music in heaven, this is the sound. This lofty rendition departs from the lovely and moving original on The Burning World mainly in its stately tempo and exquisite arrangement. Never have Jarboe’s voices sounded more enthralling than here, in particular where she performs a duet with herself.

From the sublime to the earthy: bass tones dominate the sedate first part of Universal Emptiness with its slow, solemn drumbeat. Then the tempo lifts and the sound expands as more sounds join to fill the emptiness with their emanations. Swans’ version on The Great Annihilator, although atmospheric, sounds monotonous by comparison.

Industrial undertones make Holy Money (Dirty Version) the grittier one. Simple but stylish chorales interspersed by authoritative spoken commands and spirited injunctions by the vox personae guarantee a cinematic listening experience. One gets fleeting impressions of the carrot-and-stick method of teaching, of a mix of the motivational and the authoritarian. “Ve haff vays und means” vs “You know you can do it!”


On I Am the Sun, the aforementioned personae – including a male voice – engage in demented gasps and whispers whilst the statements of the hoarse, grating lead vocal move from the merely deranged to the maniacally murderous. That’s enough to set it apart from the original on TGA with its stop-start structure, heavy guitars and drums which develops into a rock chant.

This flowing version employs drum volleys at strategically spaced intervals instead. As the tempo accelerates, the hypnotic power of the rhythmic cadences in the wall of sound intensifies. This is the most ‘rock’ song thus far and the most disturbing. The buzzing and crackling might be feedback or the sounds of the entities of which there are legions here… liliths and lamiae and god knoweth what else.

Celebrity Lifestyle offers another example of total transformation achieved by tonal and tempo variation buoyed by lilting rhythms. Stunning solo vocals and celestial choirs blend seamlessly with one another and with the pitched drones and restrained rock guitars. The use of ascending scales is the final ingredient which seals its astonishing melodious power, making it nearly unrecognizable as Swans’ 1994 midtempo drum and guitar track on TGR.

Indeterminate sounds waft in over desolate moorlands to mingle with reverberating synths and layered choirs on Realm for an unearthly symphonic drone. What are those hooting things roosting in the distance? Haunting to say the least, on a par with those intoxicating accomplishments Under Will on Anhedoniac, Warm on Annihilator or the unnerving one that follows here.

The mournful textures of the elegy Durto James are woven by sculpted vocals and overtones. As a proper polychoral composition there are contrapuntal voices/choirs whose ebb and flow shape the sound in contours of singular complexity. Between their crests and troughs there’s a dialogue of sighs, by and large inaudible as it transpires in a space beyond words and tears. One gets the impression of travelling through cavernous vaults and chambers in parallel universes where time, space and light have been transposed. Most remarkable is the fusion of voice and instrument, a blend of harmonics and electronics which results in something stranger, more exquisite than the sum of its parts.

The second version of Holy Money has a lighter drumbeat, striking keyboard patterns and well spaced guitar salvos. Spoken lines rise like silhouettes against the lattice of dreamy vocals, tinkling bells / cash register and spooky samples. This is elegant ‘ballet music’ which begs to be choreographed. Just imagine the ballerinas gracefully moving their derrieres, as instructed, like dying swans to the flowing music. The soul journey version of The Child’s Right also sets disquieting polyphonic vocals against expansive flute-like pitched drones and several of Jarboe’s legions of voices put in appearances, albeit in a restrained manner. As in Durto James, uncanny overtones colour the whole.


God, Goddess concludes the album with a modulated primal scream as the a capella voice fuses with microphone feedback. A musical expression of Munch’s The Scream where the perturbing factor isn’t the solitary figure in extremis but the merger of feedback and voice, a process by which the human quality of the voice seems to be in danger of dilution or transformation into something unfamiliar and frightening.




Posté par Mäx Lachaud dans Chroniques | Commentaires fermés Genre : Dark Folk, Experimental, vocal

Toujours aussi active, l’ex-prêtresse des Swans continue sa série de reprises intimistes d’anciens titres de ce groupe mythique ou de World of Skin, le projet qu’elle avait formé avec Michael Gira. Étonnamment, si l’album Mahakali (2008) renouait avec les racines noise et lorgnait même du côté du black metal, Jarboe est depuis revenue à des compositions plus épurées et expérimentales, tout en restant très sombres et angoissantes (le terrifiant Dark Consort et les nombreux CD-R qui ont suivi). Inutile de préciser que cette collection, Indemnity, se révèle un indispensable pour tous les fans de la belle. Les morceaux originaux y sont complètement réorchestrés, mettant en avant toute la richesse vocale de la diva : complaintes déchirantes sur dark folk mélancolique (« The Child’s Right »), berceuses éthérées et harmonies de toute beauté (« Unreal »), touches de gospel et d’Americana (« Saved »), crescendos atmosphériques (« Universal Emptiness »), cérémonies vaudou délirantes rythmées par ce vibrato toujours aussi inquiétant (« Holy Money »), rites de possession démoniaque (« I am the Sun »), drones vocaux (« Realm ») à la limite de chants harmoniques mêlés d’électronique (« Durto James ») et de prières insanes (« God Goddess »). Avec ces séries de disques en éditions limitées et autoproduits, Jarboe nous offre sûrement certaines des pièces les plus sensibles de sa longue carrière, comme une musicienne ayant atteint la maîtrise totale de son pouvoir émotionnel et de son langage en le réduisant à son expression la plus brute. Une artiste au sommet de son art.


29xthefun's Album Reviews
Jarboe has for years went out on her own making albums and selling via her own website. This album is a strange one as it is a kind of "best of" album from two albums. But it is also a covers album but of her own work. I say strange it is not really as many bands and artists re record music all the time. This is more of a performance than a document of a time. Each song has been reworked and you can really feel how personal they may well be. Her voice is very bleak and haunting here but as always utterly inviting to the ear. Some highlights are reworking of songs from Swans and the Great Annihilator album from 1995. "Celebrity Lifestyle" sounds so different here, the original recording was hardly the most upbeat song but there is a far darker tone hear. Very few instruments are used as Jarboe uses her voice to maximum effect. Same as "I Am The Sun" is vastly changed but as I say it is more of a performance almost much like a soundtrack interlude for a film. Swans and World of Skin did use a studio to help make the sound of the album here Jarboe is back to basics and with lot little she has makes it work so well. "Miracle of Love" from White Light From the Mouth of Infinity was a great track and she has really changed it so much so I can barley recognize the track. As with much of this LP I had to check the track listing to make sure I was right in what I was hearing. Much of the music is a kind of alt folk style, all very much home recorded in a way as the music was put out on CDR via her website. But the album does sound good and for fans of Swans or even noise rock style music will love this. It is easy to throw this away as a covers album but the new Jarboe atmospheric vocal pieces are totally unique to this album and worth the price alone. Available on LP only via Norman Records


Anhedoniac by Jarboe

Number One of Three by The Body Lovers

The Burning World by Swans

Cop / Young God / Greed / Holy Money by Swans

Forever Burned by Swans

Love of Life (album & single) by Swans

Love Will Tear Us Apart by Swans

A Mystery of Faith by Jarboe

Omniscience by Swans

Die Tür ist Zu by Swans


A Quietus Interview Supersonic 2012: A Radical Spirit - Jarboe Interviewed
Ned Raggett , October 9th, 2012

Interview with the Living Jarboe

Birmingham Supersonic Festival 2012


Document compiled by Pieter Uys. Review of Indemnity 2 by Pieter Uys © 2014


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