"Michael is not a fearless person, but he is a fearless artist," says Swans percussionist Thor Harris. "What else can I do?" asks Michael Gira, the group's front-man, who embodies the concept of "cult artist".
With extensive unpublished archive material, countless reliable voices, and in-depth interviews with the protagonist, the documentary explores the mutant project to which he has dedicated most of his life: hypnotic rhythms, abysmal litanies, fear, pain, sex, money, tyranny, light, redemption.
Gira tells us everything and from the beginning: his complicated childhood, his globetrotting adolescence marked by abundant alcohol and dungeon nights, the first Swans rehearsals in NY, sharing space and sound issues with Sonic Youth, successes, failures and breakdowns. This ensemble film also brings in the members of all the group's incarnations (also Jarboe), contemporary noise-rock and post-punk New Yorkers like JG Thirlwell and Jim Sclavunos, like-minded souls like Kid Congo Powers or Blixa Bargeld, and younger Swans devotees like Jehnny Beth (Savages), Karen O (Yeah Yeah Yeahs) and Ben Frost.
As thorough, introspective and intense as its protagonist, the film delves into the influences that have shaped his vision of music and life: Howlin 'Wolf, Suicide, the Germs, Pink Floyd, Amon Düül II, Ennio Morricone and the televangelis Jimmy Swaggart. He also accompanies the band in its final five years, a time of massive recognition and ecstatic and ritual concerts that Gira will not hesitate to repeat if he can be reborn again.
After the film there's a pre-recorded Q&A with director Marco Porsia. Both the film and the Q&A are English spoken.
There are no new dates planned (yet) for Swans: Where Does a Body End?.