The Seer (LP)


Swans

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Amoeba Review

Aaron Detroit, Hollywood 12/05/2012

This record has been described as a sort of culmination of all-things-Swans (even Jarboe is back for some vocal and "voice collage" duties.) To my ears, this is very true and believe it to be one of Michael Gira's greatest works. An epic, unrelenting 2-hours sprawled over 2-CDs or (an edited) 3-LPs. Sort of like Gira dragging his apocalyptic ballads through sections of Gorecki's Symphony No. 2 with shades of Ummagumma-era Pink Floyd (Gira has recently - and not-surprisingly - cited both as favorite works.)


08/28/2012

Swans’ music is severe and feels hopeless, yet true. Beginning with a rather accessible (by their standards) entrypoint, “Lunacy” begins with a relatively innocuous repeating guitar riff and builds to a chorus of ominous lyrics before delving into an extended passage of sound punctuated by cries of “lunacy!” It peels back into a somber acoustic passage that calls to mind frontman Michael Gira’s Americana work in Angels of Light during Swans’ hiatus. From there, The Seer journeys into deeper black canyons of noise with only momentary flecks of light breaking through. “Mother of the World” actually sounds like a lost No Wave-era classic in its beginning, with its atonal riff and breathy vocals, but stretches past its logical constraints and falls into a swaying, chanting refrain that again makes use of a dark folk sound. This makes way for the spare vocal performance of “The Wolf,” little more than Gira singing over a light sound wash that actually feels like an old spiritual, a minute-and-a-half necessary soulful reprieve in the midst of The Seer’s extraordinary austerity. Following that is the half-hour title track, a deep coal mine of drone, recasting folk instrumentation and rock drums as tools of endless toil. But what is it that those bulging guitar surges in the background and Gira’s toneless vocal convey? A sense of impending doom, or determination, or something in between — futility despite struggle? And the way it ultimately crashes down on itself with raging noise before fading into gradual blankness and back to its droning point of origin. It’s as intensely moving as it is unspeakable to describe. The Seer seems to speak in harsh truths of life and death, but its open-ended and engagingness within that framework make it impossible to ignore, difficult to shake. It’s one of the year’s hallmark listening experiences.



Track Listing



Side A Titles
Artist
Length
1.
Lunacy
Swans 06:07
2.
The Apostate Pt. 1
Swans 13:18


Side B Titles
Artist
Length
1.
The Apostate Pt. 2
Swans 09:36
2.
A Piece Of The Sky Pt. 1
Swans 09:36


Side C Titles
Artist
Length
1.
A Piece Of The Sky Pt. 2
Swans 09:30
2.
93 Ave. B Blues
Swans 05:22
3.
The Daughter Brings the Water
Swans 02:33
4.
Song For a Warrior
Swans , Karen O 03:58


Side D Titles
Artist
Length
1.
Mother Of The Wo51rld
Swans 09:59
2.
Avatar
Swans 08:49


Side E Titles
Artist
Length
1.
The Wolf
Swans 01:35
2.
The Seer Pt. 1
Swans 18:56


Side F Titles
Artist
Length
1.
The Seer Pt. 2
Swans 13:17
2.
The Seer Returns
Swans 06:15

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