Songs progress from quiet monophony to cacophony in an orchestral manner on Swans’ The Seer – Playing Terminal West in Atlanta 10/19/12
Review by Gail Fountain
Rich, dynamic percussion, bells, keyboards, guitars, ambient sounds and chants resound through Swans’ double CD The Seer, a two-hour epic tale that leader Michael Gira considers the culmination of 30 years’ work.
Gira, with his deadpan baritone vocal delivery, led Swans to create a tremendous musical piece of art that astounds in its ability to effectively mix elements of folk, art rock, goth, experimental and noise.
Songs progress from quiet monophony to cacophony in an orchestral manner. Progressions are created, built upon, destroyed, and at times recreated. The layers within the music become too numerous to count. The Seer is anything but conventional. It’s beautiful and decadent, sparse and dense, wonderful and terrible. Although originally considered No Wave, Swans have become so much more… a true force of nature manifested in music.
“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. But it’s unfinished, like the songs themselves. It’s one frame
in a reel. The frames blur, blend and will eventually fade.
The songs began on an acoustic guitar, then were fleshed out with
(invaluable) help from my friends, then were further tortured and seduced
in rehearsals, live and in the studio, and now they await further
cannibalism and force-feeding as we prepare to perform some of them live,
at which point they’ll mutate further, endlessly, or perhaps be discarded
for a while.
Despite what you might have heard or presumed, my quest is to spread light
and joy through the world. My friends in Swans are all stellar men.
Without them I’m a kitten, an infant. Our goal is the same: ecstasy!” said Gira.
In addition to the massively talented Swans (Gira, Norman Westberg, Christoph Hahn, Phil Puleo, Thor Harris, Christopher Pravdica) and “Honarary Swan” Bill Rieflin, an amazing list of guests feature on The Seer: Former Swan Jarboe – backing vocals on “Piece of the Sky” and “The Seer Returns,” Karen O of The Yeah Yeah Yeahs – lead vocals on “Song For A Warrior,” Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker of Low – co-vocals on “Lunacy,” Seth Olinksy, Miles Seaton and Dazna Janssen of Akron/Family – backing vocals on “Piece of the Sky,” Caleb Mulkerin and Colleen Kinsella of Big Blood –multiple instruments on “The Seer Returns” and many others.