Angels of Light is a musical entity formed in 1997 by singer Michael Gira after he disbanded Swans, the group he'd founded in 1982. The band has marked a distinctly different style for Gira since he left Swans, most noticeably being musically more melodic and less brutal than his previous efforts, though no less emotionally draining.
Angels of Light include many New York City collaborators, including Dana Schechter of Bee and Flower, Kid Congo Powers of The Cramps, Larry Mullins aka Toby Dammit, Bliss Blood of The Moonlighters and Pain Teens, Thor Harris of Shearwater, and most recently the Brooklyn band Akron/Family.
Gira talks about the Angels project :
I write the songs on acoustic guitar, then gather musicians and friends, and build up the orchestrations with them in the studio and in live performances. I guide the process, but solicit their creative contributions actively. Each recording contains the contributions of an ever-changing plethora of amazing musicians, whom I thank here heartily!
After many years (too many to comfortably contemplate!) of dwelling on "sonic overload" with Swans, I now concentrate on augmenting the songs I write with orchestrations that support the basic song, rather than the sound itself taking over.
My goal is to achieve the same sense of magic I experienced as a child listening to Burle Ives recordings of Brer Rabbit and other such marvels, including the early Disney children's records I listened to long ago.
I view the arrangements as little films created to make a context for the words and voice, so that one can drift off into the world the music creates. I produce the Angels recordings, and the production of the recordings is as important to me as the songs themselves.
Most of the instruments used in the recordings are acoustic, but not all. Electric guitars, bass and drums etc., are sometimes used (as well as an occasional electronic sound, or loop), but I intentionally steer clear of a "Rock" sound. It doesn't interest me at all any more.
However, I have no particular fealty to "The Song" as if it were some sacred codex. On the other hand, just sitting around my house, writing these things, and finally coming up with a statement that I think makes sense, I want to bring them to life as much as possible, in new and challenging ways for both myself and you, so I always strive to present them in a fresh and interesting context.
For this reason, I'm always changing the sonic approach from record to record.
The name Angels of Light was first used by the spiritual theater group founded by drag queen Hibiscus of The Cockettes. It is not known whether Gira's group was named in homage to Hibiscus's similarly metaphysically-minded group.