“Going Places” by Yellow Swans
The epic final record from this seminal North American noise duo.
In April 2008, American noise duo Yellow Swans (comprised of Peter Swanson and Gabriel Mindel) announced their decision to split. The news was a shock to the noise community, not least because the band had become a regular fixture in the live arena – touring incessantly and garnering a huge, dedicated following in the process. What the duo neglected to announce however was that a final album was already in the works, and while they would not tour together again, steps were being taken to finish off their crowning achievement.
‘Going Places’ is Yellow Swans’ conclusion as an entity, and sees the duo looking inward to create their most introspective work to date. It shouldn’t be surprising given the climate in which the record was put together, but without the constant touring Swanson and Mindel allowed themselves to take their time on the record and allow the tracks to breathe somewhat. The resulting collection is distilled and reflective, retaining the grit and damage of their earlier work but adding layers of harmony and, maybe more surprisingly, pulsing rhythms. The improvisational, psychedelic washes that have always enriched their sound are tempered and controlled, leaving an almost Kosmische narrative. The drifting, subtle beauty that characterised their last album, ‘At All Ends’, has emerged even further in the mix, and Mindel’s guitar is allowed to play foil to Swanson’s piercing noise. Comparisons could be made to Tim Hecker or even Brian Eno in parts, but Yellow Swans’ harsher edge sets them apart from many of their peers.
No doubt some listeners might be put off by Yellow Swans’ noise background, but make no mistake, ‘Going Places’ is one of the most haunting and engrossing albums yet to appear on the Type label. Swanson and Mindel have proved, if proof was ever needed, that there is beauty in dense cacophony, and ‘Going Places’ is the perfect way to close a startling career.