The Seer


Swans


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



Disc 1 Titles
Artist
Length
File/Price
Buy
1.
Lunacy
Swans 06:08
2.
Mother of the World
Swans 09:57
3.
The Wolf
Swans 01:35
4.
The Seer
Swans 32:14 Album only [?]
5.
The Seer Returns
Swans 06:17
6.
93 Ave. Blues
Swans 05:21
7.
The Daughter Brings the Water
Swans 02:40


Disc 2 Titles
Artist
Length
File/Price
Buy
1.
Song for a Warrior
Swans 03:58
2.
Avatar
Swans 08:51
3.
A Piece of the Sky
Swans 19:10 Album only [?]
4.
Apostate
Swans 23:01 Album only [?]

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