"As you can see," deadpanned Michael Gira from a crowded Bowery Ballroom stage last Wednesday, "we have a major extravaganza planned for you." Pause. "Full of hope, joy, and beauty." This is a cue to snicker. But, really: his initial Swans excavations of a severe, ritualized pound gave way long ago to lengthy works that plumbed the whole beauty-in-agony thing (and vice versa). As with the work of Mark Eitzel, at its best sadness is rendered so gorgeously its net effect is uplifting, if not necessarily hopeful. (If Gira's melodic and lyric-writing skills don't match Eitzel's, well, Eitzel's work can't touch the physicality and... More >>>