Astral Swans announces new album featuring members of Destroyer + Preoccupations

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Astral Swans

Photo: Ben Painter

Calgary’s Astral Swans has announced his sophomore album, ‘Strange Prison,’ with its first single and video for What Are You Gonna Do With Yourself. Watch the video clip via Youtube below.

Astral Swans’ ‘Strange Prison’ is due out May 18th via Calgary’s Saved By Vinyl, Tokyo’s Moorworks, and Netherlands label Tiny Room Records. Produced by Preoccupations’ Scott Munro, Arts & Crafts artist Dan Mangan, and Paul Chirka (recording engineer for the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra), and featuring guest musicians such as Destroyer’s Dan Gaucher, this sonically exploratory and emotionally resonant collection of songs focuses on the nuances of human existence. Full details can be found below.

Astral Swans’ 2015 debut album, ‘All My Favourite Singers Are Willie Nelson,’ released by Arts & Crafts affiliate label Madic Records, was described by NOISEY as “a stark, beautiful project; one that embraces darkness rather than shying away from it.” On his sophomore album, ‘Strange Prison,’ songwriter Matthew Swann continues this philosophical searching with both morbid humour and compassionate character studies.

After two years of extensive touring throughout North America, performing at house shows and on festivals stages with Hayden, Feist, Angel Olsen, Colin Stetson, and Chad VanGaalen (producer of Swann’s previous project Extra Happy Ghost!!!), he approached Preoccupations’ Scott Munro with a new collection of songs. Packed with swooning strings, shimmering keys, and spectral theremin, with guests such as Dan Gaucher (Destroyer, Sandro Perri), Dillon Whitfield (Reuben and The Dark), Rena Kozak (Child Actress), and electronic artist Tigerwing, each song stands alone as a musical world within universal themes of darkness and light.

Lyrically, ‘Strange Prison’ recalls ’90s lo-fi indie-rockers Bill Callahan and Cat Power, the fragile intimacy of ’60s folk singers Sibylle Baier and Nick Drake, and the inner world-building of Syd Barrett and Daniel Johnston. Swann credits the album’s expressionistic sound painting with an unexpected inspiration from Sly Stone’s early ’70s drug-fueled recordings (There’s a Riot Going On, Fresh, etc.), which he calls “masterpieces of weird production where nothing is used properly.”

“These songs are character studies in the complexity of being human,” Swann explains. “Despite dealing with hard themes of pain, alienation, and our limitations, the end objective is finding beauty to transcend the shittiness of the world. My music is personal, but it’s based on a fundamental belief that humans have more in common than not.”

Astral Swans’ ‘Strange Prison’ will be released on May 18th via Saved By Vinyl,
Moorworks, and Tiny Room Records. It’s now available to pre-order here.

Astral Swans – ‘Strange Prison’ tracklisting
1. Blow Away
2. Controls
3. What Are You Gonna Do With Yourself
4. Prison Builder
5. General Rule
6. The Kids Came By And Burned Down The Scene
7. Strange Prison
8. Free Yourself From All Harm
9. I Belong
10. Excess
11. Sew Their Mouths
12. I Wanna See Something Burn
13. End Song