I've tried and tried with Streetcleaner, and while I can appreciate all which is great about it, I find it a bit loose and formless in certain respects; and hence a disappointment, having backtracked from Us & Them. However, Selfless, the third album, is much more in line of what I'd hoped Streetcleaner would be - crushing and intense, but where the first album howled, this one chugs. In fact, it's actually pretty tuneful for something which gazes so grimly across the plains of despair into the gloating maw of eternity - not tuneful in the sense of anything a milkman could whistle, but he could certainly grunt these riffs to himself while sorting you out for eggs and yoghurt, or remarking that's nice in response to a pensioner describing how she often enjoys a drop of milk on her porridge of a morning.
I'm inclined to wonder whether the lads worried over steering too close to becoming a variation on Black Sabbath, hence the wall of guitar initially serving as an effect rather than something which carries notes. Not that there's anything wrong with being a variation on Black Sabbath, but in any case it isn't really an issue. Even with this sludge variant on what may well sound like Chuck Berry when you play it at 78rpm, the mood holds, pinned down by its painfully slow rhythm and that howling into the void dynamic which I tend to associate with Skullflower, Ramleh, and the like.
Talking of Ramleh, it's probably no coincidence that Selfless should feature a track called Anything is Mine, although it resembles the Ramleh version mainly in terms of sheer force and aggression and isn't what you would call a cover, so far as I can tell. The biggest surprise for me, relatively speaking, has been noticing how these songs have an almost tender quality once you listen past the chug - bruised, abused and vulnerable, and something seeming to touch on a certain mania in the likes of Body Dome Light which suggests the kind of schizophrenic episode people associate with alien abduction - although it's probably a metaphor. I mention all this because I'm not sure this soft interior is anything the Swans ever quite achieved, at least not with such eloquence and not until they took to Simon and Garfunkel impersonations; and I mention the Swans as they seem thematically closest to Godflesh, but somewhat better publicised. Of course, all this bollocks may well be simply me noticing patterns, but then maybe patterns are the whole point; or summink.
All I know is that this one fucking rocks really, really hard.