Swans: The Seer

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

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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.

Dave Everley

Dave Everley has been writing about and occasionally humming along to music since the early 90s. During that time, he has been Deputy Editor on Kerrang! and Classic Rock, Associate Editor on Q magazine and staff writer/tea boy on Raw, not necessarily in that order. He has written for Metal Hammer, Louder, Prog, the Observer, Select, Mojo, the Evening Standard and the totally legendary Ultrakill. He is still waiting for Billy Gibbons to send him a bottle of hot sauce he was promised several years ago.