Swans
The Seer


4.5
superb

Review

by Deadwing42 USER (21 Reviews)
September 13th, 2012 | 18 replies | 2,079 views


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: To listen to "The Seer" is to encounter the sublime.

6 of 6 thought this review was well written

Accessibility is not a trait I would associate with the band Swans- in fact, they’re as close to inaccessible as most bands would ever dare to come. As I looked into getting into them earlier this summer, no album in their gargantuan discography managed to emerge as a clear-cut, beginner friendly starting point, so I decided to begin my excursion into the music of Swans with their newest record, "The Seer", and I don‘t think I possibly could have made a better choice. It goes against conventional wisdom to describe a experimental double-disc album that features centerpieces of 32, 19, and 22 minutes, respectively, as a friendly starting point, but then again, nothing about Swans is really conventional. The music found on "The Seer" exudes a gripping intensity that does not let up for its entire 119 minute runtime, effectively trapping the listener in a nightmarishly vibrant world that occasionally lets up for blissfully transcendent moments of melancholic grandiosity. In short, everything on "The Seer" feels humongous, heavy, and above all, powerful.

The obvious standouts from "The Seer" are the aforementioned centerpieces- the title track, A Piece of the Sky, and closing track, The Apostate. Thanks to the perfect balance of repetition and variation within each of these tracks, they manage to feel much shorter than their colossal runtimes suggest. All of them contain many abrasive elements, as they often utilize heavy distortion and ambient noise to set a mood. The arrangements are, in many places, abstract, but as a result of the band's amazing songwriting abilities, they never feel directionless. The monumental size of these tracks does not make them a chore to listen to, and surprisingly, they do not dissuade repeat listens. Instead, they encourage them, as every single facet of these pieces begs to be fully absorbed. A Piece of the Sky may be the best of the bunch, as it evolves from an indescribable cacophony into a soothing, bass-driven section that feature incomparably beautiful vocal melodies, the distinctive qualities of Michael Gira’s voice standing out even more thanks to its relative sparseness throughout the record.

Besides the three centerpieces, the “short” tracks have plenty of things going for them, as well. Opener "Lunacy" is a strongly-driven piece, featuring terrifyingly chanted vocals that are eventually topped by the songs acoustic conclusion and the mournful lyrics about how “Your childhood is over”, a statement which the music heavily and unapologetically invokes. "Mother of the World" and "Avatar" are two other favorites, both of which showcase the strongest examples of the album’s impressive use of tempo changes, their eventual bursts of aggressive energy showing how the band’s hypnotic use of repetition is always building towards something. The only complaint I really have is in regards to in regards to Song For A Warrior, which is by no means a bad song, but its overwhelming brightness feels out of place alongside the oppressive darkness and melancholy present on most of the tracks.

"The Seer" is an album that I will listen to over and over again, for to listen to it is to encounter the sublime. It is a thoroughly enveloping record that proves that there is still plenty of originality to be mined in the world of music. Albums this rich and rewarding don’t come around often, making "The Seer" a definite must-listen for 2012.



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user ratings (988)
Chart.
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Graveyard
September 13th 2012



5598 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

waaaaay better than sowing's review

pos'd

KeithStone582
September 13th 2012



1480 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

yay


zxlkho
September 13th 2012



3460 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Fuck, this went down to a 4.2

KILL
September 13th 2012



70586 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

should be lower agreed

Digging: Gal Costa - Gal Costa

YoYoMancuso
September 13th 2012



10868 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

never heard a swans album in my life, this review encouraged me to get this. this was really good, pos'd

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
September 13th 2012



6361 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Nice work, man!

Album still is amazing.

Digging: Shackleton - Deliverance Series No. 1

YoYoMancuso
September 13th 2012



10868 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

holy crap this is jaw-dropping

tarkus
September 13th 2012



5560 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

lol

TooLateToGoBack
September 13th 2012



1753 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

pos'd

Amazon needs to get this in stock already.

IdiotequeCigar
September 13th 2012



348 Comments


Prime numbers are what is left when you have taken all the patterns away. I think prime numbers are like life. They are very logical but you could never work out the rules, even if you spent all your time thinking about them

ILJ
September 13th 2012



6616 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Anybody this on vinyl? Is it worth it?

I want it.

Digging: Mastodon - Once More 'Round the Sun

Rikardur
September 13th 2012



731 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Oh, it's worth it on vinyl.

Sleaper
September 13th 2012



3320 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

shittest album of the year...
when will these idiots realize...

Digging: Joyce Manor - Never Hungover Again

Rikardur
September 13th 2012



731 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Indie kid trying to say this is shit, lol.

cinaedus
September 13th 2012



26298 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

hahahahaha

Digging: Anberlin - Lowborn

ThunderNeutral21
September 13th 2012



3864 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

digging animal collective

Sleaper
September 13th 2012



3320 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

jokes on you guys.. harharhar.


Dunpeal
October 4th 2012



3595 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

droney as fuk. but i can dig it. a cool listen



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