When Swans called it quits a while ago – after a longish tour documented by a terrific, typically erratic live album, Swans Are Dead – Michael Gira and Jarboe went their separate ways, musically and conceptually. In addition to busying himself with an exhaustive stream of Swans-related product from the band’s house label, Gira has given live performances ranging from mostly acoustic shows that pit his esoteric sex-death-horror obsessions against Will Oldham-esque hillbilly Goth backing deadpan solo readings of his mordant, Burroughs-inspired fiction.
Meanwhile, since Jarboe’s last New York appearance at Irving Plaza in 1997 the Swans chanteuse has left Manhattan to make a life for herself in Atlanta. She’s also self-released a fine solo album titled Anhedoniac, and while recording in the Middle East last year, she got injured when she was accidentally caught in a riot between Israelis and Palestinians, which resulted in the need for extensive, expensive reconstructive surgery.
Somehow, after all this post-Swans pastoral charm and trauma, Jarboe’s back with a new solo project and tour. Although she has yet to attain cult veneration on the level of, say, Siouxsie Sioux or Nico, she’s working on it. And her new project – humbly called “The Living Jarboe” – should help. Partly sponsored by the Camel “Works in Progress” arts program, Jarboe has assembled this part-rock/part-performance-art piece (which includes four multi-instrumentalists/backing vocalists) to explore and develop various “characters” through her astounding range of vocal mannerisms and dialects. Expect songs from her forthcoming album, Disburden Disciple, in a broad manner of styles – from rock, funked-up blues and Middle Eastern – influenced fantasias to decadent hybrid genres that could only exist in her fevered brain. The new tracks sound like a cross between Yma Sumac and Laurie Anderson backed by a pit orchestra on loan from a psychotropic bus-and-truck production of Salome; sexy, pretentious, weird, funny, harrowing, faintly ridiculous and utterly delightful.
– LD BEGHTOL