Swans – The Seer

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Better than any other Swans I’ve heard (and I’ve heard a lot because audiomasochism) for one reason: there’s a lot more beauty/breathing room to contrast with the ugliness, and I don’t recall this being the case in a lot of their other albums. Examples: the last minute of “Lunacy” after the preceding cult ritual; the arpeggio-bed of the second half of “Mother of the World” following the bad-ass two-chord groove in the first half (the album’s best part, though Gira’s ululations add nothing); “Daughter Brings the Water” following the free jazz “93 Ave B. Blues” (a highlight); the Karen O-led “Song for a Warrior” (girl has a nice voice that she was rarely allowed to exploit with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs); Jarboe’s backing vocals in the last few minutes of “A Piece of the Sky”. But Swans are still the Lars Von Trier of music: super-long (the title track in particular spins its wheels in its second half), smothering, stifling, Serious (/humourless) depictions of one man’s misanthropy that veer into straight-up corniness at times: the extra unnecessary syllable of “Put your light in my mouth-OUTH!” or “As the sun fucks the dawn” or “The Wolf” is this guy’s version of Kirsten Dunst looking at the camera and screaming “IT TASTES LIKE ASH”. Of course – fuck do I know? Tons of people adore Von Trier’s limited worldview seen through the lens of his shaky cam.

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