Local Wire

Yellow Swans

The Portland, Oregon-based duo of Pete Swanson and Gabriel Mindel Saloman effectively straddle the worlds of both freeform noise and more mainstream songwriting. As the Yellow Swans, they collaborate — with experimental noise artist John Wiese, among many others — tour, and operate their Jyrk label within the parameters of the underground realm, yet increasingly, the duo's recorded improvised electro-noise is rigorously arranged and precise above and beyond that of most of their compatriots. Psychic Secession, issued in April by Load Records, is an instructive case in point: The pair's coruscating, highest-register, tonal threadlines; wavy squiggle effects; digital-static rushes; and gritted-teeth bpm pounding are strategically repurposed to the maximum, senses-scrambling effect and sweetened with strings, guest vocals, and tribalistic hand percussion. As Live at War Crimes demonstrates, the Swans' live show is less orchestrated but no less intense: guitars, feedback, drum machines, and Swanson's rabid, political vocalizations fed through the maw of the Swans' homemade rig and spewed back out in a blinding rain of flaming rage. Bring earplugs and let them vaporize you.
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Ray Cummings