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August 13, 2012 | by  | in Arts Music |
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Review – Swans: The Seer

Before the review begins, let me acknowledge that while I am somewhat versed in what one might call entry-level post-rock, I am not particularly familiar with Swans; The Seer is, in fact, the first Swans album to grace my ears.

The opener ‘Lunacy’ is a chanting anthem, and while no other tracks are as explicitly mantric, it’s a rhythm which continues throughout the album. Frontman Michael Gira’s delivery is varied: he is a pained poet in ‘The Wolf’, quirky and onomatopoeic in the closing moments of 32-minute epic ‘The Seer’, and a curious mix of David Bowie and Kurt Vile in ‘The Daughter Brings the Water’.

On ‘Song for a Warrior’, the opener to the album’s second part, Karen O of Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ vocals are a welcome change. She sets an excellent tone for part two, the beginning of which is the strongest part of the album. Shortly, however, the errors of part one are returned to and the momentum is lost.

It’s an album which requires patience to listen to, and at two hours long it’s certainly a wonder to behold. The drawn-out instrumental periods sometimes do little to be considered worthwhile, culminating anti- climactically (‘The Seer’) or being sustained with no obvious purpose (‘93 Ave. B Blues’). While these periods don’t feel as though they are borne of self-indulgence, it’s a thin line.

The problems with The Seer, I feel, are more personal—I simply didn’t enjoy listening to it all that much. In the context of Swans’ prior catalogue, The Seer may be a crowning masterpiece, though as a first time listener I’m not fit to judge this. To the uninitiated it’s a sound album, but it’s an album which doesn’t inspire one to listen to more Swans.

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Comments (4)

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  1. rupert hunter says:

    I recommend listening to the album ‘Filth’, it’s a really important, really influential album. And undoubtedly their strongest.

    • holymoneyholylove says:

      Fail, Rupert. Every SWANS album is a great album, but Filth is hardly their strongest. It cannot be argued that from greatest to least greatest, the Swans discography looks like this: 1) Children of God, 2) Holy Money, 2) Great Annihilator, 4) Cop, 5) Soundtracks For The Blind, 6) The Burning World, 7) Love of Life, 8) Filth, 9) Greed, 10) White Light From the Mouth of Infinity, 11) My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky. Please get your facts straight next time before you post.

  2. Philip says:

    I reckon Filth and Children of God are the only ones that manage to sustain brilliance for the entirety of their run-times but that’s just me.

    Although placing White Light From the Mouth of Infinity at 10 is ABJECTLY INCORRECT

  3. rupert hunter says:

    Nice facts.

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