Swans – The Seer

January 01, 1970

(Young God)




Swans majordomo Michael Gira calls The Seer, the recently-reactivated band’s twelfth record, a
culmination of everything he and his various projects have created over the
past three decades. We’ll take his word on that one, though the record
certainly comes off as a quintessential Swans release. Moving from light to
heavy, melodic to dissonant, gentle to violent over the course of its two discs
and eleven songs, The Seer traverses
the history of human emotion. Gira and his fellow travelers strip away any
pretense of reserve while still maintaining some self-control. The band lets its
collective heart do the talking through the instruments on “The Seer Returns,”
“Lunacy” and “Mother of the World.”


But it’s on the title track that the album really gets its
point across. During 32+ minutes, “The Seer” moves through acoustic solitude,
pounding fury and haunting afterglow, before evolving into a shuffling groove,
dissonant guitar waves and unsettling vocals that evoke the voices in God’s
head during Earth’s creation. The track is nothing less than a cycle of birth,
death, afterlife and rebirth, translated from Gira’s sonic soul. It’s easily
the most striking, frustrating and, ultimately, fulfilling track on The Seer.  


The droning noises, blasting cacophony and general dicking
around that constitutes “93 Ave. B Blues” defies endurance, but it’s hard to
imagine not finishing the journey once you’ve stepped onto the road. Fanatics
can argue over the ranking of this record in the band’s catalog, but it seems
pretty clear that it’s everything for which Swans stands wrapped up in one
intense package.  



Seer,” “Mother of the World,” “The Seer Returns” MICHAEL TOLAND


Leave a Reply