This is the third review of this that I am writing and the first two were these rather objective and staid ruminations on the music that The Seer contains, but both of those were completely false and void of any possible feeling, making the words empty and worthless to anyone who would read either one in anyway; I threw them both out and decided to do what Lester Bangs did, grab this fucker by the balls and tell you people exactly what I really feel from this Swans record because that might at least be interesting to skim over by a reader.
You see, Michael Gira’s music has always touched a raw and primal nerve somewhere deep in my psyche (particular the early, more overtly visceral slabs); so, breaking into and listening to The Seer is an act akin to mainlining the emotions and rhythms that Swans lay out there for the album. I will not spend time comparing this record to anything else that the band has done, suffice it to say that you can certainly elements of every era of Swans woven throughout the DNA of The Seer as if Gira, Westerberg, and company decided to throw in the kitchen sink here; I mean, The Seer is over two hours long and threatens to consume me while I am listening to it here for the second time in a row (yeah 4 hours straight of The Seer is just what I need right now).
The half hour plus long title track is totally kicking my ass right now, and listening to the title track is more akin to witnessing some tribal dance from afar just out of complete view of what the natives are doing around the bonfire as they twist and undulate and shout and sing their hyper religious exhortations and pleading; “The Seer” feels completely animalistic and more akin to a shamanic exercise than a rock song, and by the time the over thirty minute monster finishes, you feel emotionally spent as Gira and company furiously tortured the various instruments that they used to conjure this hysterical fervor. I get carried away by the song every time that it comes on my stereo and never fails to hit me with some new sound and just the steady ebb and flow is devastatingly hypnotic wraps my conscious up and takes me other places than where I am.
And yet, The Seer still has plenty of other shake you out of your skin moments that pull you up out of that nine to five stupor and take you elsewhere; “The Seer Returns” is easily one of the tracks that I go back to over and over again with its throbbing bass groove that sends shivers down my spine, and the gentleness of “ The Daughter Brings The Water” is strikingly beautiful sounding as is the almost country sounding “Song For A Warrior” (just in a completely different way as those mournful slide guitars just kill me) . I also find myself gravitating to the triumphant building melodies of “The Avatar” and think that this song contains my favorite vocal performance from Gira as well.
But, no matter what, I still point to “A Piece Of The Sky” as my whole performance from Swans on The Seer; I forget that it is virtually twenty minutes long as the sounds are like a great book that you sit down to read and 8 hours later finish and realize that you just read a whole book in one sitting, and when the whole group comes down around the ten minute mark (following a calm ambient passage), I picture the members walking in out of an anonymous desert into an old haggard western town as each member seems to be able to be distinctly heard before finally resolving in a sweet song that also shows off Gira’s rich baritone.
If you claim to like Swans in any way, then there should be plenty of goodies nestled in The Seer for you. I am not going to call this a perfect album or even my favorite Swans album, but it is a damn fine piece of work that would only not touch you in some way if you had stone in place of where a heart belongs; The Seer has more blood and sweat and bile and cum that is virtually audible than most other records out there, and for that, I will hold on to this behemoth of an album and listen to it many times over to satiate that nerve that Swans always seems to trigger in my subconscious.