The Seer

The Seer

by SwansSwans


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Michael Gira claims that Swans' The Seer took 30 years to make: "it's the culmination of every previous Swans album as well as any other music I've ever made, been involved in or imagined." This is not hyperbole. Two years after My Father Will Lead Me Up to a Rope to the Sky, The Seer is the most sprawling, ambitious, thoughtfully conceived and tightly performed recording in the band's catalog -- also not hyperbole -- over two discs, two hours, and 11 tracks. And it is not an endurance test, but an argument for compulsive listening. It's an exquisitely wrought journey through post-rock, electronic soundscapes, haunting acoustic songs, punishing noise, and (lots of) percussion. While the extremes of Filth are rare here, their roots are clearly present, as is everything else, from Cop to White Light from the Mouth of Infinity to Soundtracks for the Blind to Angels of Light. The previous musical incarnations of Swans have been honed to sharpened points, carving new musical and sonic terrain from rock into an intensely focused whole. "Lunacy" opens it with tight, seamless repetition and builds to shattering crescendo as a prolonged introduction, before chanted vocals (Alan and Mimi from Low guest) enter. They eventually give way to open-ended, restrained instrumental explorations, creating a suite-like construction in just over six minutes. The 32-minute title cut uses every tool in the Swans arsenal like a hammer, from nearly maddening repetition and clattering dissonance to nuanced space; dynamics to multivalent, layered electronic textures. Its coda, the six-minute "The Seer Returns," features tribal, shuffling floor toms and bass drums. Former member Jarboe appears on the 19-minute "Piece of the Sky." After a long intro that includes field recordings and industrial noise, her hovering voice is multitracked in a wide-open, blissed-out drone before thundering post-rock and experimental drones eventually find Gira (with Jarboe backing) singing what may be the story of their partnership. Karen O from Yeah Yeah Yeahs, sings "Song for a Warrior," a gorgeous number that commences as a country waltz before opening onto a shimmering, nearly opulent instrumental terrain before gradually stripping its way back to even starker sonic folk terrain. It's Gira speaking through that feminine voice, offering his own statement of purpose and accepting its cost. Set closer, the 23-minute "Apostate," is Swans at their most punishing. Given its length, it takes its time getting there, but when the chaos and world-shaking begin, the band leans full-on into the abyss to deliver a nearly frightening conclusion; Gira employs the full range of his powerful voice in the heart of the maelstrom before a stampede of drums pushes the track out onto other side of oblivion. The Seer is unquestionably a work of ecstatic beauty; it encompasses everything because it is everything. It references the aesthetic developed by Swans, and moves it past current musical boundaries and onto a new sonic frontier, where they stand, as they have always stood, alone.

Product Details

Release Date: 08/28/2012
Label: Young God Records
UPC: 0658457004524
catalogNumber: 45
Rank: 22833


Disc 1

  1. Lunacy
  2. Mother of the World
  3. The Wolf
  4. The Seer
  5. The Seer Returns
  6. 93 Ave. B Blues
  7. The Daughter Brings the Water

Disc 2

  1. Song For a Warrior
  2. Avatar
  3. A Piece of the Sky
  4. The Apostate

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Swans   Primary Artist
Jarboe   Vocals,Guest Appearance
Michael Gira   Acoustic Guitar,Harmonica,Electric Guitar,Vocals,Sounds,Casio,Group Member
Bryce Goggin   Piano,Guest Appearance
Bill Rieflin   Organ,Synthesizer,Acoustic Guitar,Percussion,Piano,Drums,Bass Guitar,Electric Guitar,Vocals,Casio
Norman Westberg   Electric Guitar,Vocals,Group Member
Robert Rutman   Steel Cello,Guest Appearance
Eszter Balint   Violin,Guest Appearance
Sean "Grasshopper" Mackowiak   Clarinet,Mandolin,Electronic Mandolin,Guest Appearance
Caleb Mulkerin   Dulcimer,Guitar,Piano,Accordion,Vocals,Guest Appearance
Kevin McMahon   Drums,Electric Guitar,Sounds,Guest Appearance
Thor Harris   Clarinet,Percussion,Piano,Drums,Vocals,Vibes,Hammered Dulcimer,Orchestral Bells,Group Member
Karen O   Vocals,Guest Appearance
Bruce Lamont   Horn,Guest Appearance
Ben Frost   Sounds,Guest Appearance
Seth Olinsky   Background Vocals,Guest Appearance
Miles Seaton   Background Vocals,Guest Appearance
Dana Janssen   Background Vocals,Guest Appearance
Colleen Kinsella   Dulcimer,Guitar,Piano,Accordion,Vocals,Guest Appearance
Christoph Hahn   Electric Guitar,Vocals,Lap Steel Guitar,Group Member
Birgit Cassis Staudt   Accordion,Guest Appearance
Iain Graham   Bagpipes,Guest Appearance
Christopher Pravdica   Bass Guitar,Vocals,Group Member
Phil Puleo   Percussion,Drums,Vocals,Hammered Dulcimer,Group Member
Shon Mahoney   Jew's Harp,Guest Appearance
Stefan Rocke   Contrabassoon,Guest Appearance
Jane Scarpatoni   Cello,Guest Appearance

Technical Credits

Michael Gira   Composer,Lyricist,Producer,Art Direction
Bryce Goggin   Engineer
Norman Westberg   Composer
Simon Henwood   Paintings,Portrait Photography
Caleb Mulkerin   Instrumentation
Kevin McMahon   Engineer
Earl Kuck   Layout
Thor Harris   Composer
Colleen Kinsella   Instrumentation
Christoph Hahn   Composer
Christopher Pravdica   Composer
Phil Puleo   Composer

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