Swoll Announces New Album UNWOUND
Blight Records is proud to announce SWOLL's sophomore album Unwound which will be released on September 27 and can be pre-ordered digitally and on limited edition vinly now at Bandcamp. Swoll is the Baltimore-based electronic project of Matt Dowling (vocals), Ben Schurr (bass), Erik Sleight (baritone guitar), Zak Forrest (lights). Matt Dowling has previously played bass for a handful of bands over the last decade: Deleted Scenes. the EFFECTS, Paperhaus, Joy Buttons, to name a few.
About the track SWOLL's Matthew Dowling says,
"'Unwound' is about deep vulnerability towards another person. Kind of like the Superman-inspired warning 'he/she is your kryptonite.' It's weird to me how one can even rationally realize that about the dynamics of one's own relationship to another person, yet still be powerless. In Chapter 4 of Dr. Louis Cozolino's book 'Why Therapy? Works,' he talks about an experiment where if you put a hungry rat on a platform with 5 tunnels, and put cheese at the end of the 3rd tunnel, it will explore the tunnels sequentially until it finds the cheese. Because the rat has excellent spatial memory, it will, at first, go down that same 3rd tunnel in the next round of experiments expecting the cheese to be there. But if you had moved it to, say, the 1st tunnel, it will eventually figure out that it's at the 1st tunnel and get the food. Humans, on the other hand, will keep going down the 3rd tunnel because that's where they believe the cheese should be! The irrational and the unconscious are very powerful forces. The song 'Unwound' attempts to recognize this, embrace it and simply let the poetry of one's own life unfold, for better or for worse."
SWOLL's sophomore album was influenced by Unwound, the post-hardcore Olympia, WA act which was active largely in the 90s, but never received or desired MTV-level commercial success. "Unwound is my favorite band," says Dowling. "In the last few years, I've thought about them a lot, and I've also thought a lot about how wider musical tastes have shifted in such a large way in recent history. A lot of what SWOLL is about is embracing an electronic/rap framework of producing music, but weaving in the power of rock, primarily as performance art back into it. I feel like a lot of electronic music loses that edge live. To me, Unwound were masters of rock as a performance art form, and that makes me hope people remember them as we forge on into a deeply electronic universe."
SWOLL began releasing music in 2018 before playing any shows. That collection of recorded material comprised the self-titled debut LP which largely began as a collaboration between Matt Dowling and Ben Schurr (Br'er, Luna Honey), who has produced numerous acts under his label/collective Blight. Dowling, who existed almost exclusively as an indie rock bassist in his previous musical life, had began writing songs in full, but was unsure of how to move forward with them. "I felt like what Ben was doing with the Blight Collective was a really good fit with the direction of my songs, and once we started tracking, everything just snapped in place. Even though singing felt super weird to me, the momentum allowed me to get over that and just use my voice as my new weapon."
After touring in 2018 in support of SWOLL with a bass and a baritone guitar churning next to heavy drum tracks coming out of a wall of amps, SWOLL began to be more a band, and less a bedroom recording project. They recruited synth savant Erik Sleight, with whom both Dowling and Schurr had played in previous bands. Also, Dowling brought in lighting artist Zak Forrest to raise the visual stakes from the very first performance. "I've never been in a situation where the music was made first and the live element was second. That sequence was frustrating for me initially, but it also gave me the space to think about presentation way more so than I ever have. And Zak's my not-so-secret weapon for the live presentation. I think of him as a bandmate."
In the context of the album, Unwound functions by unfolding into a deep, eclectic soundscape textured in resonating melodies and honest lyricism, blending together part psychedelic rock with dark electro synth pop. Like the previous record, Dowling deals a lot with philosophical themes which often manifest themselves in the context of modern relationships. Songs like "Setting Sun" and "Deep Fake" evoke themes of longing for a world without the over-communication and smoke-and-mirrors that the internet allows. "Save Face" angrily confronts gentrifiers who complain about the "noisy" conditions of their urban neighborhoods while having minimal understanding or respect for the historical context of those neighborhoods. "I had to learn to scream a bit from playing out live, and that ended affecting my delivery on record, as well as the material that was most effective in this batch of songs."