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THE SEER

Swans

Post Rock/Math rock


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Swans The Seer album cover
3.72 | 152 ratings | 7 reviews | 32% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 2012

Songs / Tracks Listing

CD1 (64:13)
1. Lunacy (6:09)
2. Mother of the World (9:57)
3. The Wolf (1:35)
4. The Seer (32:14)
5. The Seer Returns (6:17)
6. 93 Ave. B Blues (5:21)
7. The Daughter Brings the Water (2:40)

CD2 (55:00)
8. Song for a Warrior (3:58)
9. Avatar (8:51)
10. A Piece of the Sky (19:10)
11. The Apostate (23:01)

Total Time: 119:13

Bonus DVD from 2012 SE - Live 2010/2011 :
1. No Words / No Thoughts (18:50)
2. Avatar (10:36)
3. The Apostate (19:31)
4. Beautiful Child (Fragment) (3:43)
5. Jim (8:16)
6. Sex God Sex (7:13)
7. The Seer / I Crawled (32:16)

Total time 100:25

Line-up / Musicians

- Michael Gira / vocals, acoustic & electric guitars, harmonica, keyboards, sounds, producer
- Christoph Hahn / electric & lap steel guitars, vocals
- Norman Westberg / guitar, vocals
- Christopher Pravdica / bass guitar, vocals
- Thor Harris / drums, percussion, bells, dulcimer, violin, vibraphone, piano, clarinet, vocals
- Phil Puleo / drums, percussion, dulcimer, vocals

With:
- Bill Rieflin / piano, organ, synth, keyboards, acoustic & electric guitars, bass, percussions, vocals
- Alan Sparhawk (Low) / vocals (1)
- Mimi Parker (Low) / vocals (1)
- Karen Lee Orzolek / lead vocals (8)
- Jarboe / backing vocals (5, 10)
- Seth Olinsky (Akron-Family) / backing vocals (10)
- Miles Seaton (Akron-Family) / backing vocals (10)
- Dana Janssen (Akron-Family) / backing vocals (10)
- Kevin McMahon / electric guitar, sounds, drums (5)
- Sean "Grasshopper" Mackowiak / acoustic & electric mandolins, clarinet
- Cassis Staudt / accordion
- Eszter Balint / violin
- Jane Scarpantoni / cello
- Bryce Goggin / piano (8)
- Stephan Rocke / contrabassoon (4)
- Iain Graham / bagpipes (4)
- Bruce Lamont / horns (4)
- Bob Rutman / steel cello (4)
- Caleb Mulkerin (Big Blood) / accordion, vocals, dulcimer, guitar & piano (5)
- Colleen Kinsella (Big Blood) / accordion, vocals, dulcimer, guitar & piano (5)
- Shon Mahoney / jew's harp (5)
- Ben Frost / acoustic & synthetic sounds (10)

Releases information

Artwork: Simon Henwood

2CD Young God Records - YG45 (2012, US)
2CD+DVD Young God Records - YG45 (2012, US) Bonus DVD with Live recodings from 2010/2011
2CD Young God Records - YG45 (2012, US) (promo)
3LP Young God Records - YG45 (2012, US)
3LP Young God Records - YG45 (2012, UK) (test pressing, white label)
2CD+DVD Mute - LCDSTUMM363 (2014, UK & Europe)
2CD Young God Records - YG45CD (2014, UK & Europe)
3LP Young God Records - (2014, Europe)

Thanks to zravkapt for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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SWANS The Seer ratings distribution


3.72
(152 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(32%)
32%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(30%)
30%
Good, but non-essential (23%)
23%
Collectors/fans only (10%)
10%
Poor. Only for completionists (5%)
5%

SWANS The Seer reviews


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Andy Webb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Retired Admin
5 stars Swans is a band whose breadth of mind and depth of experimentation will be remembered by music enthusiasts and experimental music fans for decades to come. Led by Michael Gira, the two decade old project has produced some of the most haunting and dense music since their inception in the early 1980s. The band has come in and out of a plethora of styles, from quiet and haunting experimental rock to full out sludge metal to post punk to gothic rock. Of course, they were originally in the "no wave" movement of the 1980s, showing their dedication to underground, experimental music. The band has had its share of squabbles, though, as any band of such an extreme genre would. Band members, fought over direction, albums showed strain between composers, and the band broke up in 1996.

In 2010, however, Gira gathered the flock once again. The reformation produced two new albums: My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky and perhaps their best offering to date: The Seer.

Where does one start on such a mammoth of an album? Running at almost two hours, the two-disc set is one of the band's longest studio albums, and contains a world of mind- ravaging material that would surely make someone go insane with too much exposure. On The Seer, we see Gira and company at their most intimate, moody, dark, and brooding selves ? The Seer is an experiment of the listeners endurance, but not because the album is overlong. The Seer makes the listener yearn for more and more Swans.

The raw emotion emitted from these tracks is intoxicating. The instrumentation of the massive array of guitars, percussion, folk instruments, strings, brass, keyboards make dense and impenetrable layers of sound laced with emotive power and musical might. The actual performances are imperfect, but this only enhances the atmosphere of this beast. From Gira's quietly strained and wavering vocals on "The Wolf" to the wall of sound that hits on the epic 32-minute title track, the album's delicately imperfect performance shows that these musicians care not for carefully crafted musical scores nor mechanically quantified note sequences ? these musicians want to tap into the emotional current that flows through the musical mind ? and they do it. Each track, no matter how short of long, contains in it a spectrum of emotion, from subtle but penetrable fury to droning insanity to blissful innocence to mysterious curiosity to so much more ? the eponymous seer can truly see it all as he travels the breadth of the darkest of human emotions to the brightest of emotive triumph.

Far from emotions, however, the musicality expressed by Gira and company on The Seer truly shows how much of a visionary Gira is. Rather than conform to any traditional musical form at all, Gira crafts a visceral exploration of the aural art of musical. Gira evokes the very rhythmic beat of society and humanity and crafts it into song. The subtle beat of a human's stride, the tempo of their mind, and the timbre of their personality can all be found within the folds and folds of the dense texture of The Seer. In some ways, it almost seems as though there is too much being put into this album. There is so much to take in, so many musical journeys to go on, and so much power put into these performances that it's incredibly difficult to sit through the album in one sitting and truly experience all that it has to offer.

Everything on this album fits. One of the most spectacular things I noticed when listening to the album in its entirety is how smooth the whole the two hours feel. For many bands, producing a massive two-disc album means bouncing around styles in a way that is fairly awkward for the listener to experience. As rough and dense as The Seer's soundscape is, however, the entire listen is continuous and "whole." Even songs like "The Seer," "A Piece of the Sky," and "Apostate," whose massive length lends them to have an entire spectrum of stylings contained withing them, contain a sense of finality when they finish with no loose ends that still maintains an air of openness that allows for the succeeding track to flow effortlessly forward (save, obviously, "Apostate," which brilliantly ends the album).

Is The Seer the next progressive rock masterpiece? Most likely not. I do not expect Yes fanatics to jump ship from Close to the Edge and start hailing The Seer as the second coming of 1973. The Seer, however, provides a rare eye into the potential of the experimental rock genre. The Seer, from a genre standpoint, transcends music. In so many ways it is simply impossible to categorize this album in any one genre. Of course, post rock is just one blanket term that can be applied to the band. While SigĂșr Ros or Explosions in the Sky may provide the most stereotypical example of post rock, Swans makes us look at the genre like Bark Psychosis did when they were first coined as post rock. What will come in the rock scene when the world is in a post- apocalyptic nuclear winter? What will the musical visionaries of the next 300 years brew up? Swans provides a small window into that world. The Seer is, like its title suggests, is like a divination into the purest musical expression humanity can produce while maintaining an air of musical structure and taste. While Merzbow may hold the record for purifying human anguish into sound, Swans makes human emotion musical.

In the end, there is almost too much to collate and process in The Seer. A raw expression of musical experimentation, this album transcends the bounds of post rock, progressive rock, or experimental and avant-garde music. The Seer is a masterpiece by default ? there is no other option for it. This album enters the listener's state of mind and forms and molds its structure during listening. Without a doubt, this album earns the highest marks. 5 stars.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This is one of those very rare albums that comes along once in a great while--maybe every two or three years--that catches me by surprise--that is so unexpected, contains music that is so far beyond my experience or imagination as to absolutely blow me away! This album has also, once and for all, confirmed for me that I have a very serious attraction to/affinity for trance- inducing music. This music drives and thrums and sucks you into its maelstrom of controlled chaos. It induces entrainment--an experience I value perhaps more than any other in this lifetime. For those of you who don't know about, or who might have never heard of 'entrainment,' it is a word used to describe the event of the 'synchronization' of a multiplicity of persons (or beings) into a singular rhythm. For a musician or music listener this is a supra- or meta-physical event in which time and space seem to disappear due to the deep connection one is experiencing with the music, the rhythms, the experience of feeling as if one is within/a part of the music. Their is forged an amazing interconnection to all others in--a veritable disappearance of ego and I-ness, which is replaced with an unhuman feeling of being so connected to the music, to the (other) musicians, that one could swear that the 'perfect' and 'magical' music is being channeled through the collective--as if it is effortlessly coming through onesself as if seeking to take its place among and with the notes, rhythms and sounds of the others. It is understood that on a very deep, unconscious level humans are drawn to the lake- and sea-shores because the rhythm of waves rolling up onto the beaches is one with which the human Cranial Rhythmic Impulse (the brain's rhythmic pumping action of cerebral spinal fluid) entrains--creating a very steady, healthy, and healing physiological event within the human host. Entrainment is when feelings of connectivity and unity supercede all illusions of separation and disconnection. The music of The Seer is music to entrain to.

Five star songs: "Mother of The World" (9:59) (10/10); "The Seer" (32:13) (10/10); "The Avatar" (8:51) (10/10); "A Piece of the Sky" (19:10) (10/10); "The Apostate" (23:00) (10/10); and, "Lunacy (6:10) (9/10).

This was (and is) The Best Album I've Heard from 2012 and my #2 "favorite" album from that same year.

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars A sustained and carefully optimised sonic attack, The Seer runs the full gamut from ugly doomy drones to gorgeous post-rock passages and beyond. Definitely an album to lose yourself in over a wide space of time - with tracks extending for as long as half an hour this isn't something which you can really dip in and out of quickly - it offers some of the most subtle and startling soundscapes in recent music. Recent Swans releases have been divided between major releases and more fannish releases intended to provide means of funding the truly important projects; this is one of those important projects, and it truly merits being considered as such.
Review by Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Well I'm slowly getting through SWANS discography and so far I'd say "Soundtracks For The Blind" is my favourite, and I do Like "To Be Kind" better than "The Seer" for what it's worth. "The Seer" is a double album with 2 hours worth of music for our listening pleasure(haha). Yes as usual this is long, repetitive and experimental, and while I don't love it I almost always seem to come away very impressed with Gira's final product. A ton of guests helps out here which is surprising to me as there doesn't seem to be that many instruments in play but apparently I'm wrong.

Disc one starts with "Lunacy" as we get this repetitive guitar melody and keys I think as the atmosphere rolls in. Vocal expressions too before it kicks into a heavy groove. Vocals and a more stripped down sound 2 1/2 minutes in and this will continue until it turns more powerful a minute later. A calm before 4 1/2 minutes and relaxed vocals will also join in.

"Mother Of The World" has this repetitive mechanical rhythm that goes on and on. Organ joins in before 2 1/2 minutes. Some vocals a minute later and then it all stops 4 1/2 minutes in as a powerful sound kicks in with male vocals. It's slowing down at 5 1/2 minutes and then it seems to actually get brighter before 6 1/2 minutes. "The Wolf" is a short one with slow drawn out vocals that pretty much speak the words. The atmosphere before a minute is really cool.

"The Seer" is the long one at over 32 minutes. Yikes! It sounds like bag pipes amongst all that atmosphere that seems to hum and hover. It starts to wind down around 2 1/2 minutes and soon we get a beat with what sounds like banjo and atmosphere. Hints of power come and go as this plays out. Vocals arrive as it builds with some active drum work. Later it's building before 11 minutes until we get chaos a minute later. It then starts to slow down as we get repetitive outbursts of power that come and go. They stop around 22 minutes as it stays powerful and atmospheric. It then starts to calm down with some harmonica. A beat and more arrives around 28 minutes and vocals follow. It's more powerful after 30 minutes.

"The Seer Returns" has this rhythm that seems to go in circles here. It turns powerful rather quickly and we get male spoken words after 1 1/2 minutes. Soon he's singing but in a relaxed manner. It's louder later on, catchy stuff. "93 Ave. B Blues" is the most experimental track on here, very avant. We get those sounds that cry out from the start to the point of screeching. A dark atmosphere comes and goes along with vocal expressions. It turns explosive after 4 minutes until 5 minutes in. "The Daughter Brings The Water" ends disc one and it's mainly a guitar melody with Gira singing.

Disc two starts with "Song For A Warrior" and we get this relaxed sound with guitar, piano and atmosphere as reserved female vocals join in. There's a brief instrumental break as well. "Avatar" opens with a sample of something I can't recognize as bells and drums join in. Sounds like sleigh bells. The beats are getting louder along with the atmosphere after 3 minutes but then it settles back a minute later. Male vocals before 5 minutes. It kicks in hard before 8 minutes and the tempo picks up as well.

"A Piece Of The Sky" might be my favourite. The sound reminds me of a very large fire that crackles away and from the title of this song it may have been caused by lightning or something else. Vocal melodies just before 2 minutes replace the fire. Soon it's atmosphere only humming and hovering over the soundscape. Vocals after 6 1/2 minutes before it all turns quite noisy. A heavy rhythm takes over before 10 minutes and continues until before 15 minutes when it settles down with a relaxed beat and picked guitar. Male vocals after 15 1/2 minutes as the relaxed sound continues to the end.

"The Apostate" ends it in an apocalyptic manner. It almost sounds like sirens going off over and over as we get this disturbing mood. Explosive sounds after 6 minutes. Absolute insanity during this long section. The tempo picks up before 9 minutes. It seems to be settling back some 12 1/2 minutes in then a repetitive beat that's catchy kicks in a minute later. Vocals a minute after that. Grating sounds before 19 minutes then suddenly 22 minutes in we get a barrage of loud drums and yells to end it.

I just get so intrigued with how experimental the SWANS can be with all those samples thrown in too. It's innovative music but certainly not for everybody. I'm sure some think it's all trash but despite my enjoyment factor not being as high as I'd like this is a 4 star album in my world.

Review by ProgShine
COLLABORATOR Errors & Omissions Team
1 stars In my opinion music can go wherever it wants and can have the form that the musicians choose. There are no rules. However, there are rules for me!

There are many, many listeners who follow certain publications/sites and take pride in being 'different', and they end up in an alternative world, along with several other listeners. At the end of the day all we have is a legion of alternative listeners who hear and worship the same things, not so alternative in the end...

Well, why this text 'nothing to do with anything' at the beginning of this review? Because to me Swans has always been in this category: music for people that is alternative, but it is not. Who wants to make strange and different music just for the simple fact of wanting to be different. Period.

That's what The Seer showed me.

I tried to listen to the record without preconceptions, maybe there was a good record to be discovered (finally) by me. No. Deception.

Songs that are long simply 'because yes', not because there is a purpose. Songs that come out of nowhere and get nowhere (The Seer, the song, being the perfect example of my statement). And at the end of the record we get this question in our minds: what's the purpose of this record, whyit exists?

The discography of the band is all full of hype and the alternative ones love to adore the band. Oh, and they are influence to many other modern and equally cool new bands that also fills us with the same emptiness of The Seer.

I wonder if The Seer was recorded without the pretension, without all the cool vibe around it, without the intention of being 'cool'. I imagine it would have been a good record, because there are several good moments that are simply destroyed by the pretension.

Latest members reviews

1 stars OK that sub-genre probably doesn't suit with my feeling in terms of music but, for my part, can we really talk about music here? I just have listened various sounds in an experimental approach. If the musicians are themselves comfortable and happy with their performance, no issue for me, I respect t ... (read more)

Report this review (#1680842) | Posted by Roane | Tuesday, January 17, 2017 | Review Permanlink

4 stars "The Seer" is the album that introduced me to Swans and remains, by a long shot, my favourite. After the release of its predecessor, the long awaited "My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope In The Sky", the band impressed many of their old fans and welcomed some newcomers (like myself) with a new twist ... (read more)

Report this review (#1105428) | Posted by Xonty | Thursday, January 2, 2014 | Review Permanlink

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