Review: Giant Swan – Fantasy Food EP

Artwork for Giant Swan's 2023 EP Fantasy Food

Dance music for the mind from Giant Swan.

Here’s a list of the two scariest things in any club: the first is the solo guy on the empty dancefloor at 4am stood right by the speakers, eyes closed, nodding his head, and the second is the music he’s listening to (which in most cases isn’t even what’s on, but what’s playing in his mind).

It might be Giant Swan. Robin Stewart and Harry Wright emerged from their sonic swamp towards the end of the last decade, the abstract techno and white noise of their self-titled 2019 album drawing comparisons to Fuck Buttons and Blanck Mass.

Gathering momentum as a result, they played live everywhere from Berghain to Glastonbury, also supporting The Horrors and fellow Bristolian merrymakers Idles.

Quieter release-wise since, Fantasy Food marks a return to Giant Swan’s deeper techno roots, populated by a quintet of tracks which for Stewart the intent was in a dancefloor sense to be both functional and uncompromising, whilst more simply Wright has explained: ‘We wanted to write something that doesn’t fuck about.’

Although the pair were in the studio listening to the likes of Suede, Kate Bush and Annie Hogan during the EP’s creative phase, listeners won’t hear much of their influence. Opener Sugar And Air throbs along at almost nosebleed tempo, the relentless bass joined by chopped up vocal samples, rave horns and warehouse clangs as shit is relentlessly lost.

It’s a noise which chimes with the more existential themes that post-pandemic clubbing has explored, of release and reunification, the feeling of being as one but still an individual molecule in an ecstatic whole.

This reaches its apex in form on RRR+1, a track as messy and imprecise as the psychodrama of being led from moment to moment somewhere underground, a soundtrack for an experience Wright sums up as, ‘Giving thanks for health and physicality before putting that all to the test when you enter a club with loud music, flashing lights and… narcotics’.

Elsewhere, the dots are a little harder to join, the title-track a weird little patch of heavy distortion and otherwise glitchy noise mashing, whilst the pumping abstract of Boasting treats compromise like a dirty word.

Obviously the contents of Giant Swan’s Fantasy Food will have their greatest utility in a certain kind of club, one where the DJs are looking to untether people entirely from their experience outside. If you’re there and you see the guy on the empty dancefloor at 4am right by the speakers, he’s probably listening to this.

Even if it’s only in his mind.

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