What We Did

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
This set by Swans and Angels of Light frontman Michael Gira and Windsor for the Derby frontman Dan Matz is a small wonder of sophisticated songsmithing and an exercise in complete collaboration -- something that (on this level at least) wasn't happening either in the pop or indie rock worlds at the time of this album's release. There is a relaxed, airy feeling in these songs, and a remarkable consistency of purpose and production in that they were recorded over two years at irregular intervals. There is the blissed-out drift and swoon in "Pacing the Locks," with Matz on lead vocals barely articulating his words above the guitars and Gira's layered backing chorus. And on ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
This set by Swans and Angels of Light frontman Michael Gira and Windsor for the Derby frontman Dan Matz is a small wonder of sophisticated songsmithing and an exercise in complete collaboration -- something that (on this level at least) wasn't happening either in the pop or indie rock worlds at the time of this album's release. There is a relaxed, airy feeling in these songs, and a remarkable consistency of purpose and production in that they were recorded over two years at irregular intervals. There is the blissed-out drift and swoon in "Pacing the Locks," with Matz on lead vocals barely articulating his words above the guitars and Gira's layered backing chorus. And on "Is/Was," there is a long, sleepy/slippery guitar intro before a snare and a tambourine enter in the distance. Basses begin to interweave the folk-blues guitar line, as it drones into vocal. If Bob Dylan is making blues records from a school that never existed properly as blues, then these cats are making a mutated kind of modal blues that comes from the memory of a music never even heard. Other standouts on the disc include the Mattel drum-machine hypnosis of "17 Hours," with its twin guitar ostinato and droning keyboard lines punctuating a chanted vocal by Gira. With more power it might have been a Swans tune, but there is a deviation in the rhythm that sounds like a steel drum filling in the phrases, though it may be a guitar; it's difficult to tell. There is a Middle Eastern atmosphere, as more droning instruments enter the mix, that is both astonishingly beautiful and texturally oppressive. Yet, this is balanced with the simplicity of "Quiet One," a poetic folk song that bears traces of medieval music from the British Isles and back-porch, late-night singalongs in a Tennessee holler, augmented by traces of reverb and effects, of course. The song transforms itself into a Baroque mosaic that, were it not so moody, would be a pastorale. In all, What We Did is a finely wrought album of relayed styles and layered textures enfolding one another into a music that could have only been made by these two men, with a small host of guests who appear intermittently. The songs here are all questions that are more pronounced after their seeming narratives have entered back into the silence from whence they came. The ciphers are underlined by music that was carefully crafted to suit the needs of each particular narrative, and built, one step at a time, from a single idea into a tapestry of visions and mysteries both terrible and beautiful to behold.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 11/13/2001
  • Label: Young God Records
  • UPC: 658457001721
  • Catalog Number: 17
  • Sales rank: 87,642

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Pacing the Locks (4:41)
  2. 2 Is/Was (7:19)
  3. 3 Cold Creeping (3:57)
  4. 4 Lines (3:50)
  5. 5 Brown Eyes (2:01)
  6. 6 17 Hours (6:21)
  7. 7 Stitches (5:20)
  8. 8 Waiting Beside Viragio (2:19)
  9. 9 Forcing Mary (3:10)
  10. 10 Quiet One (3:30)
  11. 11 Sunflower (3:23)
  12. 12 The Brightest Star (3:37)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Michael Gira Primary Artist, Vocals, Various
James Plotkin Guitar, Vocals
Dan Matz Vocals, Various
Technical Credits
Neil Diamond Composer
Michael Gira Arranger, Producer, Cover Design
Tamer Eid Composer
Luke Michel Composer
Erik Wenberg Composer
Todd Watts Composer
Mack David Composer
Dan Matz Arranger, Producer, Engineer
J. Budenholzer Execution
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