Swans * The Seer (2cd 2012)

Swans is one of those bands I have known about for decades, but never got to listen to them. In my head Swans is an old industrial band that was around before I started to listen to industrial music and since everybody says that they Swans are the hardest live band they ever saw, I took them for probably being a noise band. Actually Swans were there before there was industrial and since Michael Gira is also in the “nowave” documentary “Kill Your Idols!” that would probably mean a guitar-oriented noise outfit. Another reason that I probably never heard them is that they seem to have quit after the 1998 album “Swans Are Dead” and released nothing until 12 years after. I, at least not consciously, did not hear about the 2010 album “My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky”, but Last.fm did recommend me “The Seer”. Since they are also coming to my country to play, I decided to try this new album and I noticed that there are actually two new albums, “The Seer” and “We Rose From Your Bed With The Sun In Our Head”. The latter appears to be somewhat how I expected Swans to sound, but not as loud as I thought, guitar-oriented noisy music. Fortunately I heard “The Seer” before “We Rose…” otherwise I might not have heard it. Not that “We Rose…” is a boring album, but “The Seer” is a lot more interesting. It opens with a brilliant song called “Lunacy”, a soft track with constantly repeating singing of the song title. The next track is more a long, epic rock song with softer and louder parts, completely with organs. After a short soundscape comes the over half hour title track epic which goes from soundscapes to jazzy music to noisy rock, heck, this is almost what you nowadays call “sludge” or “stoner doom” and not bad either. The next track is almost poppy as are some other tracks on the second disc. There is folk, classical nowave/artpunk, popmusic. Not every track is brilliant, but most are good to very good and the variety of styles makes “The Seer” very interesting and very listenable. I might need to find me more music of Swans! Would this be a new sound for the band or did I mistakingly ignore them all these years? You probably know the band for a long time, so perhaps this review will tell you if Swans changed and if you still want to hear the new album, but for people like me, who somehow managed to miss this band, “The Seer” could be a good introduction to start exploring the massive discography.
Swans, Young God Records

2 comments

  1. In fact, this new album is very good, in my opinion, better than their “My Father Will Guide”… About their noisy style – I think it dominates only in their concerts now (at least I decide that from what I have seen live last year in Riga). But album-wise they have stepped from this power-noise structures long ago. I would recommend “Soundtracks for the Blind” (very atmospheric album), “Love of Life”, “White Mouth from the Mouth of Infinity” (more poppy), and their “Children of God”, which was a turning point from noisy scene to more atmospheric sound. Of course, this is just my opinion, since some people prepare their harsher side of early years, but for me this new face of Swans suits better. I think, you should give them a try, outstanding band.

    1. Thank you for your comments, I will look around a bit. The funny thing is, I do like noise, but not all of it and probably not really before 1998 when Swans quit. I will try to find some of the old and new material.

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