Post-punk/no-wave legends Swans return this week with a double-LP titled The Seer, the follow-up to their 2010 reunion album My Father Will Guide Me up a Rope to the Sky. At two hours long, The Seer is an absolute behemoth of an album, truly epic and intense throughout. Stoic frontman Michael Gira (also of Angels of Lights) describes the album as 30 years in the making, saying, “It’s the culmination of every previous Swans album as well as any other music I’ve ever made, been involved in or imagined. But it’s unfinished, like the songs themselves. It’s one frame in a reel. The frames blur, blend and will eventually fade.” This is a demanding album for sure, slowly and fluidly evolving over its massive runtime with no standout tracks/potential singles, but for those willing to take the often bleak trip it is well worthwhile. The album’s centrepiece is the 32-minute sprawling and cacophonous title track, which comes on like a soundtrack to the apocalypse with its monolithic chords, unrelenting drones, howling harmonica and overwhelming intensity. Elsewhere, Karen O provides some welcome relief on the comparatively soft and utterly gorgeous ‘Song for the Warrior’, former Swans member Jarboe returns on two tracks (including a collab with Akron/Family members on ‘A Piece of the Sky’), and Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker of Low appear on side one opener ‘Lunacy’. To reap the full benefits of this primal, cathartic and utterly unique album, you really do need to sit down and devote the entire two hours to it — which is probably a level of patience few still possess in 2012 — but I highly recommend it, as this dark masterpiece is one of the greatest albums of the year, and likely the best album these boundary-smashing leviathans have released.
The Seer is out today. Stream it below (via NPR).