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Swans: The Seer

New York art-rock mainstays offer the ultimate aural test.

Swans mainman Michael Gira has never made it easy for anyone – himself or his listeners.

But even by his antagonistic standards, The Seer is a two-disc, two-hour endurance test that swings from pristine beauty to sonic hell, frequently in the space of the same song.

Gira’s sonorous voice lends unfathomable gravitas to each track: he’s the black hole around which the fire-damaged acoustics of The Wolf and the 32-minute exercise in aural battery that is the title track spin in ever-decreasing circles.

So why the fence-sitting rating? Because even after a week of living with this album, it’s not clear if it’s a work of breathtaking genius or art-wank insanity. It’ll probably turn out to be a bit of both.