My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky

Swans - My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky
Critic Score
Based on 22 reviews
2010 Ratings: #33 / 879
Year End Rank: #42
User Score
Based on 317 ratings
2010 Ratings: #146
Liked by 7 people
September 21, 2010 / Release Date
LP / Format
Young God Records / Label
Post-Rock / Genres
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A.V. Club
The full-length is the group’s first since 1996, and although singer-keyboardist Jarboe is absent, Gira and longtime guitarist Norman Westberg have sired a leviathan of an album.
No Ripcord

Part mind numbing, part infuriating, part stimulating and always worth discussion, Swans remain a significant force in underground and independent music and this new album sees the No Wave merge with the compositionally avant-garde.

Tiny Mix Tapes

My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope To the Sky, from the title’s evocation of righteous death on down to its suffusion with keening strings and other touches of sonic Americana, is an attempt to come to terms with the dark heart of history, with that ultimate question: if we are born into crime and monstrous darkness, how do we become more than that past?


Whatever the case, we finally have My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky to judge, and—whatever baggage it might carry—what a gift it turns out to be.

It's been a 14 year wait, but Swans unleash a chaotic melee of noise as beautiful as it is ferocious.
FACT Magazine
At all points it sounds exactly like Michael Gira, and just like Swans, but never sounds like any already-existing Swans record. Comebacks shouldn’t be this good, this confident. They certainly never sound this fresh.
Coke Machine Glow

If My Father doesn’t quite achieve the perfection (what else can you call it?) of their last albums, it nevertheless takes up where they left off.

Drowned in Sound

Yet My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky sounds more like the essence of Michael Gira than the Angels Of Light ever did, and ought to also serve as another broadside to the idea of reformations being inherently grubby and uncreative ventures.


My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky is a mercilessly intense and beautiful record that only Swans could pull off, and that no matter who plays in the band, Gira was and is Swans: their sound, their musical and poetic vision, their heartbeat.

Recognizable shapes of jazz and post-rock often accompany Gira’s baritone croon, but they’re always delivered between passages of fastidiously crafted clamor that’s as cauterizing as ever.
Swans return, bigger and more frightening than ever.
Slant Magazine
Darkness is still in great supply throughout these eight long songs.

This album is the antithesis of 2010's gooey let's-all-be-friends chillwave fun.

This music, though, it’s almost anti-music in spots. In a good way. It strips away all the comforting structures we know and leaves us awash in harsh emotion.
Spectrum Culture

Doesn’t matter that he’s 56 years old, Gira hasn’t lost his ingenious Sidam Touch. Just as always, he spins arbitrary styles and instrumentation into casual entropy, Father being the optimistic example that, yes, bands can reconvene and as record as if they never broke up.


This is certainly, then, not an album to be taken lightly. Whilst this may be its chief difficulty, and one that will undoubtedly deter and daunt some listeners, it is nevertheless good to have a band and an artist with this darkly poetic a vision back recording and performing once again.

The Skinny

In the context of Swans latter output, My Father… is typically challenging, with the lead-heavy opener No Words/No Thoughts treading over nine minutes of distorted abstraction; mixing imperial, instrumental ascents with Gira’s shadowed vocals. It’s a polarizing gambit, and a sure sign that Swans have returned with an uncompromising (and nihilistic) intent.

NOW Magazine

Swans, who emerged from the same noise-filled no wave scene in New York's early 80s as Thurston Moore, had a rotating cast of nasty-tempered psychotic rockers, with multi-instrumentalist Michael Gira at its centre. Listening to Swans' new album, the first in 14 years, you get the sense that some of that malevolence remains.

The Needle Drop
I think with another LP, it's the rockier moments that will come off stronger than the acoustic ones. Because as of this point, the latter is the more memorable on this LP.
Yeah fine, this isn't as great as the three next albums to follow it, but My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky still makes for an album that definitely shouldn't be ignored in the Swans discography, especially for ones that are just getting into their music. Their latter albums feel closer to one whole experience, where if they don't stick the landing, it can all crumble down into an unpleasant and time wasted disappointment. However, this record feels a lot closer to a traditional ... read more
Jarboe? Jarboe!!? JARBOE!!?!?!! ¡¿¡¡¡¿¡¡JARBOOooooOooOOOOoE!!?!!!?!


Yeah, "My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky" is the first Swans album without Jarboe.

Write a review for a Swans album. The challenge already seems basically complicated. Complicated because Swans is inherently undefinable and unpredictable; because Swans put their foot in their mouths; because Mr. Gira ... read more
as it stands, i think My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky stands as one of Swans' least important, but most accessible albums to date. the pros here certainly outweigh the cons, but it doesnt really represent a great statement or stand on a grandiose scale - it more stands as a signal of greater things to come.

the sound of My Father is a large departure from Swans' last album over 2 decades ago. gone are the tape recordings, the somewhat lofi recording,, and in comes full, intricate ... read more
And now we enter the modern era of Swans...

Trying to follow Soundtracks for the Blind is a feat that no band can pull off. An album that literally has been praised as audible perfection, a record that is more in common with films then it does actual music. It's a tough act to follow, and even Swans know this. This album comes after a long 14 year hiatus from the band, and with that amount of time and energy being held from Swans, one could imagine that they almost could be seen as a new band ... read more
Took me 2 years to listen to this because I was so attached to Swans other work

It’s gucci

Some songs here are amazing and definitely worth coming back to. Some songs felt a bit too stripped back, but it was overall a positive experience. I enjoyed it front to back, but maybe front a bit more.
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Track List

  1. No Words/No Thoughts
  2. Reeling The Liars In
  3. Jim
  4. My Birth
  5. You Fucking People Make Me Sick 
  6. Inside Madeline
  7. Eden Prison
  8. Little Mouth

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