Swans – The Seer
(Young God, 2012)
When I posted my recommended releases for August, I made the mistake of saying the Swans’ latest epic was not “extraordinary”. I was wrong. The Seer is nothing less than an absolute beast, with the density of the blackest of holes. The fact that I couldn’t come to this conclusion on my first few listens is because I wasn’t able to give it the attention it deserved. Halfway through the repetitive, 32-minute title track, I would lose interest and either move on, or tune out to a point that I was never able to appreciate what came next. It took a 4am, 2-hour, jetlag-induced headphone session for me to experience, and appreciate The Seer for the fucked up journey it really is.
This album is uglier and more frightening than any of the metal I listen to, yet I do believe with a little effort (and patience), it can be enjoyed by those who rarely frequent the dark side. Not to cop out here, but the
music sounds contained within these 2 hours are hard to explain with words. At times it’s dusty, western folk music. At times it’s a psychedelic freakout à la Pink Floyd. At times it’s the pure noise that Swans are famous for. And at times it feels like it’s going to drone on forever, only to flip the script on you in an instant, forever changing the narrative. Like any hallucinogenic trip, you just need to relax and go where the path takes you — trying to fight it would risk being lost forever.
I think it was by design that I missed out on this album on initial listens, because The Seer really does deserve the work it takes to really discover what lies within. This is the first album that has received its own post on this blog this year and I can’t think of another that deserves it more. It is not perfect, and some sounds are too long, but overall this is the most impressive piece of work I have heard all year.
Swans – Lunacy