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Angels of Light, "We Are Him"

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Available August 2007

Black River Song - listen to full song

We Are Him - listen to full song

 "Michael Gira is one of maybe ten people in the whole world who inspired me  to pick up a guitar and try to write songs in the first place. He continues to be a tremendous influence on me. A new Angels of Light record is always  cause for celebration around our house, and though each one is always better than the last, this new one is going to be hard to top… Forget everything you know about Michael Gira and Angels of Light, even if  you love everything you know about Michael Gira and Angels of Light (which I most certainly do) - We Are Him is an intimidatingly great album and a highlight in a career of highlights…. Michael Gira taught me that you don't need to play loud to play heavy, you don't need to compromise to be a success to those who really count, and all you need to make rock and roll soup is some piss, some vomit, a little blood, and a few hundred wet cigarette butts."  - James Toth / Wooden Wand

"We Are Him is the most assured and relaxed Angels of Light album since the debut, and deserves to be considered alongside Gira's highest peaks. The frightening rage of old Swans  surfaces several times, albeit in more bucolic clothing; the contrast  is bracing. Lyrically Gira's constantly in-pocket, addressing his  subjects with renewed agility, but
also in a very relaxed voice; if  De Sade had lived long enough to tell folk tales around a campfire,  some of them might have sounded like this. The genuinely playful  orchestration - banjos? horns? chimes? slide? check – is by turns  charming and perverse, and has a band-of-brethren feel to it that's both ominous and exiting. The title track is like a pure shot of adrenaline. An intimate, unexpected masterpiece." - John Darnielle/The Mountain Goats

Michael Gira | Angels of LightWe Are Him began with my usual vows to keep things simple this time, finally, and I failed once again to live up to the task. I went into the studio with Akron/Family as backing band (as they had been on Other People). We recorded all the basic tracks in a week. They played drums, bass, guitar, piano, and backing vocals. Despite Akron's valorous efforts and fine performances, things sounded thin and tentative to me, so I started calling my friends to help me flesh things out. Christoph Hahn came to Brooklyn from his home in Berlin (Christoph played in Swans for a while, and has played in several Angels incarnations - he has his own group called Les Hommes Sauvage too) and played his usual stellar "kraut-abilly" electric guitar stylings, as well as open-tuned lap steel. That helped considerably, and gave the songs balls, or bowels in many instances, as well as occasionally lifting things up nach Himmel… Next came Bill Rieflin. Bill is as fine a gentleman as you'll ever meet. He also played in Swans at one point. When I met him he was drumming in Ministry. He's since moved on to play with Robert Fripp (off and on I think), Robyn Hitchcock, and he currently is the drummer for REM. He's an incredibly expressive musician, on a variety of instruments. He played: Hammond B3 organ, Moog synthesizer, electric guitar, bass guitar, drums/percussion, piano, casio, and backing vocals and probably 3 or 4 things I can't remember at the moment… Next the spirited and gracious Eszter Balint played fiddle/violin to great effect. She played mostly drone based parts, but injected a lot of feel through inflection and modulation. She's a wonderful player and she also just brings a sense of warmth into the studio which is most welcome. She also sang some backing vocals here and there. Eszter first came to wide public notice through her central role in the film Strangers In Paradise, but she's gone on to become a fine singer, instrumentalist, and songwriter in her own right - look her up!....

 Next came Julia Kent on cello and Paul Cantelon on violin. They played multitracked string sections on a few songs here and there, "arranged" on the fly. Julia's a member of Antony and The Johnsons, and she does some arrangements as well as playing therein. Paul is primarily a pianist, composer, arranger and recently a soundtrack composer for some high fallutin' films, the names of which I now forget, but I like the way he plays violin, with lots of warble and feeling. He and Julia work quite well together too and have the added advantage (from my perspective) of tolerating my vague descriptions and out of tune humming-of-part suggestions, and then taking those scanty guidelines and making something musical and fully realized out of them. No mean feat !.. Next came my pal and x-neighbor in Brooklyn Steve Moses. Steve's a drummer and trombone player. He's in the band Alice Donut and also has his own solo extravaganza called Drumbone and also an improv duo called Lambic. He played trombone like a brontosaurus on this record. He also played drums and trombone on a few of Devendra's YGR releases… next came the estimable musical encyclopedia and flute player (and multi instrumentalist ) of true finesse David Garland. He played flute on a few songs, and also did some rather deep backing vocs. He's another great presence to have in the studio, though he's a little intimidating because he's such a repository of all things musical. He hosts the shows (on NYC public radio station WNYC) Evening Music and Spinning On Air. Aside from playing classical music and film scores and more, he's also been a big supporter of people like Devendra, Akron/Family, Mi and L'au and other contemporary rock/folk related music, as well as myself. David's also a songwriter/singer and should be checked out too!...

 Next came the glorious Siobhan Duffy and Larkin Grimm, singing "Chick Vox"on several songs (and Siobhan sings a cameo on the song Not Here/Not Now). Siobhan drummed for years in the NYC noise/skronk band God Is My Co-Pilot, but she went on to become the singer of the group Gunga Din, then drumming for Kid Congo and also Flux Information Sciences. She's sadly temporarily retired from music. She's got a very particular and unique voice, and it's a big loss. Larkin is a wild-ass Georgia mountain woman, or She-Shaman, or something. Ha ha! She too has an amazing voice, a huge range and as a songwriter she's eccentric and fiercely expressive and really coming into herself. She's got a few CDs out - look for 'em. We're also in the nascent stages of working on an album that she'll be putting out on Young God Records… Next came my old touring buddy Phil Paleo. Phil was drummer in a band called Cop Shoot Cop, but he played drums and yes, hammer dulcimer in Swans final phase. He played hammer dulcimer on a few songs here… Birgit "Cassis" Staudt played accordion and melodica on a few songs. She's played and toured in several Angels incarnations, and she's a chanteuse you can find playing cabarets and nightclubs in NYC… My big buddy and protector Pat Fondiller played a little mandolin here and there. He did a great job. His hands are bigger than the mandolin! Pat played bass on an Angels tour a while ago, and he also plays in the hard rock combo Smokewagon… The record was recorded at Trout Recording by Bryce Goggin and at Seizure's Palace by Jason La Farge, both in Brooklyn, and in fact right around the corner where I used to live. It was mixed by Bryce at Trout. Thanks to them, and all the above! Also big thanks to the fellow musicians/friends who supplied the
extremely kind words about the record on this page…  Michael Gira/ ‘07

"the moment I played -we are him- my heart exploded with the feeling 'that voice!!!!!!' and it has done it to me everytime I have ever heard it. From my first cassette of filth to this newest work, michael gira's singing is my favorite gentle violence and lovers strangulation. Now is the best he has ever sounded and I cannot without sounding insanely thrilled express how much this means to me. -we are him- is touching, frightening, wonderfully different and whole." }  - Jamie Stewart / Xiu Xiu

"What‚s a young turk to do when Michael Gira, at 52, is at the height of his powers?   Everything I‚ve loved about his previous work ˆ the apocalyptic soundscapes, the window-shattering drums, the glistening acoustic passages, the voice like God speaking out of the whirlwind -  is distilled and reimagined in these songs, and infused with an organic warmth that only makes them the more urgent and harrowing.  By turns frightening, funny, cathartic, wise, even strangely sweet, "We Are Him" is a sprawling masterpiece by an artist whose muse seems more fertile than ever."
 - Jonathan Meiburg / Shearwater

"Michael’s shirtless screaming is now finally reborn into something closer to the intensity of Nina Simone than punk rock.  The song forms are now clear and strong enough to support vocal performances that sometimes sound like a 25-year-old Michael simultaneously hallucinating and dictating the dark underbelly of the Amercian Dream. And now that this strength and intensity is firmly rooted in tradition it can take on a whole new level of meaning and interplay and understanding  that I find simply wonderful. This is not indie rock or Americana, this is authentic American music; or as Gram Parsons said, ' Cosmic American Music ' "  -  Seth Olinsky / Akron/Family


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