The Swords Project, a glimmering Portland eight-piece, has created its own musical dialect, approaching a textural, modern sound from a composer's standpoint. By utilizing the sort of aesthetic more common within slower Handel or quicker Rachmaninoff, they've found their way around the primal barriers of communication, speaking with spongy violins, subtly low-tide white noise, and a breathtaking wash of drum fills like dip-thongs. They swell and jaunt, communicating not what has been taught, per se, but what is innate, like the sounds a baby makes as its vocal chords form and push out.
The Swords' new four-song CD is a symphony of heartbreak, flight, impermanence. It begins nearly spiritually, with "shannonsweddingsong," a crushing dive into benevolence. From there, the album is powerful, rolling, with a bass that pushes your ribcage flush with your stomach. Vocals are thankfully sporadic, often only unintelligible whispering. They're speaking from their guts; lyrics might sully the language of the Swords.
Live, they're equally devastating. At their CD release show (July 2, Lola's Room), I was compelled to cry. They took my language from me. I turned to my friend and could only look at him with strained quietude. He muttered, glass-eyed: "They're super great. Super great."
The Swords appeal to a complex Id, one that's able to comprehend the magnitude of an experience, but can only throw hot tantrums. Their music is light--so light, it takes your breath and blinds you, like an angel you're simply too human to gaze upon.
Sometimes, it's impossible to understand what music does; it just happens, an emotional Big Bang that is somehow, indescribably altering. The Swords have the rare ability to be moving and eloquent. All we can really do is appreciate it.