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SWANS

Post Rock/Math rock • United States


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Swans biography
Founded in New York City, USA in 1982 - Disbanded in 1997 - Reformed in 2010

Part of the original No Wave scene in the early 1980's, the New York City rock band SWANS has since become one of the most respected experimental rock outfits to the present. Led by the visionary vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Michael GIRA, SWANS operated for nearly two decades from their inception in 1983, he is also well known producer. His daunting and impressive songwriting abilities created some of the strangest and revolutionary music to date. Influences of post-rock are seen in numerous records, notable in Soundtracks for the Blind, which predates a lot of the crescendo-core stuff, and the band has influenced numerous post-rock bands with their ever expanding sound and advanced technical approach to rock music. Although they broke up in 1997, SWANS reunited in 2010 to record two more albums, My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky and The Seer.

Bio written by The Truth (Tanner) and updated by zravkapt (Darryl)

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SWANS discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

SWANS top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.64 | 77 ratings
Filth
1983
3.40 | 56 ratings
Cop
1984
3.40 | 45 ratings
Greed
1986
3.50 | 44 ratings
Holy Money
1986
4.24 | 130 ratings
Children Of God
1987
3.47 | 46 ratings
The Burning World
1989
3.71 | 77 ratings
White Light From The Mouth Of Infinity
1991
3.53 | 48 ratings
Love Of Life
1992
3.65 | 73 ratings
The Great Annihilator
1995
4.25 | 120 ratings
Soundtracks for the Blind
1996
3.75 | 62 ratings
My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky
2010
3.95 | 193 ratings
The Seer
2012
3.97 | 232 ratings
To Be Kind
2014
3.88 | 100 ratings
The Glowing Man
2016
3.72 | 35 ratings
Leaving Meaning
2019
4.20 | 34 ratings
The Beggar
2023

SWANS Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.12 | 25 ratings
Public Castration is a Good Idea
1986
3.44 | 9 ratings
Feel Good Now
1987
3.08 | 7 ratings
Anonymous Bodies in an Empty Room
1990
2.50 | 4 ratings
Real Love
1992
3.88 | 7 ratings
Omniscience
1992
3.50 | 4 ratings
Kill the Child: 1985/1986/1987 Live
1995
3.93 | 22 ratings
Swans Are Dead
1998
3.91 | 11 ratings
We Rose From Your Bed with the Sun in Our Head
2012
4.27 | 11 ratings
Not Here / Not Now
2013
4.50 | 4 ratings
The Gate
2015
4.00 | 7 ratings
Deliquescence
2017

SWANS Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

SWANS Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.04 | 9 ratings
Body to Body, Job to Job
1991
4.25 | 8 ratings
Various Failures 1988-1992
1999
3.00 | 1 ratings
Forever Burned
2003

SWANS Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.83 | 16 ratings
Swans
1982
3.03 | 17 ratings
Young God
1984
3.14 | 9 ratings
A Screw
1986
3.00 | 10 ratings
Time Is Money (Bastard)
1986
4.00 | 1 ratings
Celebrity Lifestyle
1995
4.03 | 12 ratings
Die Tr ist zu
1996
4.00 | 2 ratings
Oxygen
2014
4.00 | 1 ratings
Paradise Is Mine
2023

SWANS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Beggar by SWANS album cover Studio Album, 2023
4.20 | 34 ratings

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The Beggar
Swans Post Rock/Math rock

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars Although SWANS originated on the tail end of the obscure NYC no wave scene some four decades ago, this project led by Michael Gira has exhibited an amazing staying power by leaving all the competitors in the dust while consistently reinventing the SWANS sound to transverse itself into more contemporary styles of experimental rock. While jettisoning the skronky guitar dissonance long ago and transmogrifying into a form of post-rock, SWANS unlike any other band has showcased how the no wave movement was in many ways a precursor to the world of post-rock and here in the current calendar year of 2023, Gira returns with SWANS' 16th studio album titled THE BEGGAR.

I have been a fan of pretty much everything this band has cranked out right from the no wave industrial noise rock of 1983's 'Filth' to folk and drone fueled totalism meets post-rock on the more recent albums like 'The Glowing Man' however with 2019's 'leaving meaning' i was actually left cold as Gira's approach had shifted significantly from a hypnotic detached methodology to one that incorporated Gothic country and Neofolk however what i hated the most about that album was vocal style that sounded as if it was trying to emulate happy-go-lucky pop artists from the 50s and 60s. That album was a complete dud to many and it seemed SWANS might have run out of steam.

No such problem though as Gira hasn't successfully navigated the decades by not paying attention to the reaction of the fans. He experienced a similar hiccough with 2010's 'My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky,' which personally i love but many did not. Apparently GIra got the memo and on THE BEGGAR returns to that same mopey vocal delivery like he just woke up from a series of bad dreams and is here to recount his experience through poetic prose set to a menagerie of post-rock, neofolk, droning, sound collages, ambience, gothic rock, avant-folk and even a bit of goth country. This time around though he succeeds in his efforts given that this formula of simplified music based on melodramatic continuity can be very fragile and any particular element skewed in any particle direction can result in a total derailment of tolerability.

I don't know how he does it but beginning with 2012's 'The Seer,' SWANS only releases double albums or at least the modern equivalent of what would once be considered as such. THE BEGGAR is another sprawling series of tracks that collectively slink past the two hour mark at nearly 122 minutes! While not as dark and depressive as earlier SWANS albums, THE BEGGAR seems to reject the overt happy campiness of 'leaving meaning' but not jettison it altogether. Gira seems to have simply refined that formula by connected it more successfully to the stylistic approaches of the past with a continuity that allows a two hour plus album to not lose its momentum. With only 11 tracks, the majority are lengthy sprawlers but in reality the second to the last track 'The Beggar Lover (Three)' consumes almost 44 minutes of this album's playing time!

What makes many SWANS albums to intriguing is that they are instantly likable with no digging required to connect to receive an instant impact but yet find many subtleties buried beneath the surface. An ominous mix of goth-tinged post-rock with ethereal atmospheres and processional cyclical loops that meander for large chunks of time, THE BEGGAR also features a lot of lap steel guitar sounds as well as many ethnic instrumentation such as the dulcimer, fujara or duduk. Gira employs seven musicians and two vocalists to bring THE BEGGAR its magical hypnotic touches and does so triumphantly.

Somehow in the modern world where attention spans have been reduced to mere blurbs, SWANS has managed to memorize the listener with lengthy sprawling musical compositions. While this album is great, the best track is the longest. At nearly 44 minutes, 'The Beggar Love (Three)' has a running time of a traditional vinyl length album and yet it is the best and most hauntingly beautiful track on the entire album. SWANS is best when it is allowed to just slowly drift into a world of its own making. This hypnotic and ethereal dreamy track just perfectly ratchets up the perfect tension with a beautiful atmospheric accompaniment that works in tandem with the martial rhythmic grooves that culminates in a heftier rock sequence around the 20-minute mark. A few minutes later the music drops out altogether and becomes a series of percussive chaos and spoken word samplings. In short the track is the perfect marriage of drone, ambient, post-rock and miscellaneous sound effects. The album ends with its most energetic, 'The Memorious' which exits on a fiery note.

Overall THE BEGGAR shows that SWANS is in no way of danger of burning out. Gira is has an uncanny ability to keep cranking out engaging albums that on paper sound as if they should bore you to tears. SWANS albums are very difficult to describe because words can't really convey the depths of emotional responses that they evoke. Gira has proven time and time again that he can go against the grain at every step of the way and still provide something captivating in a manner that no other has quite latched onto. It's hard to believe that some 41 years after SWANS was created that yet another album emerging in 2023 will surely rank right up there with other masterful creations. Is this SWANS' best album? I wouldn't go that far. I don't think albums like 'Children Of God' can ever be topped. Even more recent albums like 'The Seer' and 'To Be Kind' are more varied and interesting but there is no doubt that THE BEGGAR doesn't not disappoint from beginning to end and for that i must applaud Michael Gira and his endless wellspring of creativity that shows no sign of letting up. Bravo!

 The Beggar by SWANS album cover Studio Album, 2023
4.20 | 34 ratings

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The Beggar
Swans Post Rock/Math rock

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Heavy Prog & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

5 stars Michael Gira's last Swans album? Really?

CD 1 (69:08) 1. "The Parasite" (8:21) (17/20) 2. "Paradise Is Mine" (9:23) (17.25/20) 3. "Los Angeles: City of Death" (3:29) (8.5/10)

4. "Michael Is Done" (6:08) 'tron, female b vox, whispered vocal but it's all about attaining orgasm (in order to be finished with ? life?). The second, instrumental motif is like music from a 1960s pop song. (Is that Michael's idea of Heaven/Nirvana?) At least this makes it mildly more entertaining than the previous 20 minutes of the album. (8.6667/10)

5. "Unforming" (5:55) is Michael even really trying to sing? The C&W sound palette works okay for this song--making it mildly more interesting than the album's first 20 minutes--and there's even a climax at the end with the "freedom" proclamation. (8.66667/10)

6. "The Beggar" (10:15) nice foundation laid down from the opening.. Even Michael's forceful singing of his ominous lyrics is somehow engaging. The ramp up at the very end of the fourth minute is great (despite its CURE/COCTEAU TWINS sound and feel). The final ramp up at 8:00 is awesome and powerful. A top three song for me. (18/20)

7. "No More of This" (6:55) the music is a little dull and dirgey, but the vocal(s) is compelling. (13.25/15)

8. "Ebbing" (11:04) music supporting a Buddhist chant fest. (17.5/20)

9. "Why Can't I Have What I Want Any Time That I Want?" (7:38) the most engaging, compelling, creative, fully- developed, articulate, and lyrically-impressive song on the first disc. I love the eerie arrangement of the background vocalists and the fuller-musical weave of multiple instruments each adding their own important and distinctive thread to the song. A top three song. (14/15)

CD 2 (52:29) 10. "The Beggar Lover (Three)" (43:51) (Not on the LP) - Constantly morphing orchestral chordal discord over the first three minutes is so awesome! So much like the music I came to know and love from my first Swans acquisition, The Seer. Then we move to tubular bells, droning harmonium-like sound, and gentle seaside Brian Eno-like tuned percussion hits before and while a female voice recites (as if from a film soundtrack) a soliloquy about what life after death will be like. At the five-minute mark we move into an earthquake of percussion play. Steel-bending saw guitar and synth sounds soon join in. Drumming ends as church organ, orchestral bass notes, and an eerie chord is sung by a female choir for a minute or so before synths and other orchestral instruments provide a chilling PRESENT-like fabric over which Michael begins speaking lullaby words like "milk" and "sleepy close your eyes" in the eleventh minute. In the 12th minute fast-drummed metallic tuned percussives somehow supplant the organ-bass-choir motif with their own disturbing "alarm." This, in turn, is seemlessly supplanted 90 seconds later by a more space-industrial motif of synths and robotic rhythm instruments. These ghost-like synths are awesome over/with the plodding, relentless momentum supplied by the bass, synths, cymbals, and voice samples. Great section! At 18:00 a long, pulsing, CURE-like instrumental passage takes over, carrying us to the 22:00 mark where all instruments cut out leaving us only the mostly-female vocal choir to carry the song in its own constantly-morphing chordal flow. At 24:00 a bird-like screeching violin takes over, a cappella, for a full minute before a vocal diction coach enters to teach us vocal sounds before a different drum cascade provides the background for infant/baby vocalizations followed by toddler words & nursery rhymes ("This Old Man") as recited by a young boy. At 27:30 there is another transition led by droning guitar note before finger-picked acoustic guitar arpeggi and synth notes weave together to provide a kind of monotone carpet roll while a young child interjects an occasional "Da-ad!" or squeal. After reaching the 30-minute mark adult voices make their appearances over the guitar-synth carpet roll: first with adult male vocalizations then with a long rolling drone of sustained female choir notes (lasting about 90 seconds). Then, at 32:05, everything shifts again, back to a rolling drumming sequence from some tympanic-like drums. At 33:30 a single strummed guitar arpeggi begins a long repeat (loop) as jazz double bass and drum play (mostly cymbals and rim shots with the occasional bass drum and snare hits) join in. At 35:40 Michael joins in with his two-tone voice reciting a kind of DAVID BYRNE/ADRIAN BELEW-like list of things he "can" do with "it." Keys/synths and smooth/relaxing runs from tuned percussion join in as the jazz foundation and droning voice-list continue into the 44th minute--right to the song's end. I'm so glad Michael decided to give the listener something peaceful and relaxing to sink into! It is so difficult to sustain high-quality music, complete with tension and engaging melody or interesting components, over the length of 44 minutes, but this song does so fairly well--which I was not expecting after the inconsistent (and often maudlin simplicity of the) first CD (especially the first three songs). And what makes this long epic even more exceptional is the way it is always flowing and morphing into something totally fresh and new about every 90 seconds--which means there are about 30 palettes or motifs to the tapestry! Definitely another top three song for me and one of the best long-playing prog epics of 2023. (86/90)

11. "The Memorious" (8:38) old rhythms and pacing with "Da-ad" vocal epithets from a toddler and undistinguishable adult vocalizations open this one. At 1:30 a male voice begins a recitation of some poetry over the top of everything else. This is old, classic Swans with some simple King Crimson-like guitar patterning and Iggy Pop-like spoken vocals. The bursts of choir chords in the background are this time male-dominated. A decent but not outstanding song. (17.66667/20)

Total Time 121:37

Would that lyrics/words were my reason for listening to music I might like this album more. Musically those first three songs are so boring, simplistic, and repetitive--and so lyric-dependent--that I felt lost--forlorn that there was no way in hell that I could possibly end up liking this album. But, thank goodness I kept going as the music and songs gradually began to get better, become more engaging and interesting, so that I was drawn back to try all of the first songs over again. (I still don't like them.) The choir of female background vocalists helps but it's often just not enough to elevate these songs into engaging above monastic chants. Thank goodness for everything after "The Beggar" and especially the 44-minute "The Beggar Lover (Three)"--one of the best long-playing prog epics I've heard in a long time. IN short, this is an inconsistent album that really pays off big time if you stick with it (yes: all the way through its 121 minutes).

A-/five stars; a minor masterpiece of progressive rock music--highly recommended to any prog lover to try out for themselves.

 The Beggar by SWANS album cover Studio Album, 2023
4.20 | 34 ratings

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The Beggar
Swans Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Rrattlesnake

5 stars Whenever I try to review an album, even if I scarcely do it, there's always the fear that all I'll put down is a mere slurry of cliched phrases and thoughtless praising to high heaven. So it comes as more of a challenge when Swans, a band I've championed for years, puts out a new album, and I'm faced with the dilemma of how to describe the gamut of feelings I go through while listening to their next two-hour monolith. Their evolution from monstrous no wave to epic, expansive post-rock is a sight to behold, releasing a near-perfect streak of albums throughout their 40-year career, taking the experimental rock world by storm... oops.

See? It's tough! It's tough to drop everything and resort to all these big compliments and purple prose. As someone who doesn't have much experience writing music reviews, the difficulty in coming up with something new and original to say for an album makes it seem like a truly impossible task. What's the point in saying anything about something if you're just gonna tread water and say the same things over and over again? I have to mull and toil to find new words to describe it. Thankfully, this album has some distinct talking points I can build from.

The Beggar is Swans' sixteenth studio album. It's another double album in the vein of their Trilogy, but it's not a return to the hard, pummelling, noisy energy. Instead, it picks up where Leaving Meaning left off and improves on the softer, folksier side of the band, combining it with those heavenly crescendos and what-have-you. I don't need to say what else describes the sound of Swans because it's been said many times before. If I said it here, that would be a dead end for the review. So now I'm gonna talk about what makes this album stand out amongst the others.

This album's main theme is about accepting death. Michael Gira is 69 years old, and he's aware that his time will come. When writing songs, he always has the mindset that the next album might be his last. With all things considered, this may very well be it. Solemnity mixed with fear is strong throughout the album, like on "Paradise is Mine" where he sings like he's intertwined with the initial minute tangles of the universe, wondering where it all came from as he chants the mantra "Is there really a mind?" On "Michael is Done" he lays it bare: he's getting old, he's wasting away, and eventually he'll be gone. The title track has the phrase "Will I remember how to live? When will I finally learned how to live?"as if he's desperate to cling to life, trying to piece together who/what he is. "No More of This" has Michael bidding goodbye to those he loves in preparation for the great wherever. He knows his fate, and he's ready...

....what am I doing here? I feel like the review is getting formulaic. I mean, inside my mind I can feel sentences forming but when I type them out, they don't sound the way I want them to... Perhaps this is the trouble with art. It never quite works out to be what you envisioned it as at first. The same goes for talking about it. What parts of it do you like? What do you think the artist could improve on? For me, reviewing albums is almost a Sisyphean task, but something about this album compelled me to write about it. This complex music exudes complex emotions; these big, indescribable thoughts. What is this?

There's a moment on the album where it all clicked for me and made me think "This is it." That moment was the song "The Beggar Lover (Three)". It's a 44-minute song, comprised of parts from past Swans songs like The Glowing Man, The Apostate, Cloud of Unknowing, and Leaving Meaning, along with recording of Michael's wife and child. It's similar to "Look at Me Go", the limited edition bonus disc that came with My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky. This song is the moment where the fear and anxiety disappears, and only acceptance remains. Pure, total acceptance. It's like Michael looking back on his life and wondering if what he created has answered all the questions he's been looking for. I came into this song without knowing what to expect. Hearing the sections of old songs intertwine with one another really got me thinking about how far they've come, long after the last chord of "The Memorious" faded out into the aether. I sat there in the silence. If this is it, then it it so, and I am satisfied.

The Beggar is Swans grappling with the truth: nothing lasts forever, and the end could be just around the corner. Michael is ready. The band is ready. Am I ready? Who am I anyway? Will I find my purpose in life because this album revealed it to me? Maybe not. I don't take this stuff for granted anyways. If this is their last album, then what a way to cap off their legacy. Forty years of uncompromising music, elating all who stay along for the ride. In a way, everyone is ready.

There's only one rating I can give this, and it's a perfect five stars. Viva Swans.

 The Beggar by SWANS album cover Studio Album, 2023
4.20 | 34 ratings

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The Beggar
Swans Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Captain Midnight

5 stars While I am aware that Michael Gira has stated that each Swans project is treated like if it's the last this truly feels like the band is finally giving us a send off. The Beggar lyrically reminds me a lot of David Bowie's Blackstar the album is painted in death (I hope Michael is doing alright because sheesh) this album goes in on that theme, sonically there's a little bit of everything (Minus the No Wave) in ways this reminds me of Sigur Rs, the album has elements of the Gothic Country, Post Rock and Sound Collages seen on White Light, Soundtracks, My Father, TBK and The Glowing Man. This album feels like for a lack of better words a celebration of Swans especially in the 40+ minute monster of a track The Beggar Lover even going as far as sampling tracks seen on other Swans albums. And I almost forgot to mention, this album is beautiful, like really beautiful please listen to this with headphones, no doubt this album will be looked back on fondly
 Soundtracks for the Blind by SWANS album cover Studio Album, 1996
4.25 | 120 ratings

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Soundtracks for the Blind
Swans Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Boi_da_boi_124

4 stars Review #119!

To put this in words that any well-versed prog fan can understand, the music on 'Soundtracks for the Blind' is like a mixture of The Residents and Klaus Schulze. The Residents for their powerful ability to scare anyone through music and vocals and Klaus Schulze for his use of electronics and droning, spacey passages of music. And like both artists, this music is dark. It is demented. Michael Gira's deep vocals add to this factor. The songs on this album have a somber, hopeless atmosphere to them. 'Helpless Child', my favorite song on this album, shows this perfectly. The vocals and lyrics are mysterious and depressing. The music is lowkey and delicate. The song titles are dark too. 'I Was A Prisoner In Your Skull', 'Her Mouth is Filled with Honey' (my mental image of a woman choking on globs of honey doesn't help), and 'How They Suffer' show this well. But "Soundtracks" isn't all demented and spacey. Some of what I like to call "clear songs" like 'Yum-Yab Killers', 'All Lined Up', and 'Blood Section' seem to be rooted more in punk and traditional rock as opposed to post-rock. And some songs are just plain weird: like 'Volcano', a warped pop song. Female vocals are cheery but the music is creepy. Distorted keyboard sounds interrupt the flow of the song and make the atmosphere very uncomfortable. Close to the end the lyrics get quite disturbing although the vocals maintain cheery and innocent. 'Red Velvet Wound' is a happy folk song with strings and keyboard overpowering the original audio until it fades out. Definitely weird. With twenty-six songs, this album has much material to zone out to. This record, like many other Swans albums, reely puts you through the motions, the good, the bad, and the ugly (and this music has a fair share of the two latter!). Highly recommend this wonderful post-rock album. Prog on!

 The Seer by SWANS album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.95 | 193 ratings

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The Seer
Swans Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Dapper~Blueberries
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Listening to music for pleasure is all the rage, but what about listening to music for pain? Music for masochists, stuff that is displeasing to listen to but still fills the void of sound to where it is very preferable. You could try Harsh Noise like Merzbow, or perhaps some intense Drone Metal like Boris or Sunn O))). However, say you want something a bit more in the Rock vein of things that aren't just Noise; something to jam to and experience. Something brimming with energy more so than anything else. Well, my friend, let me introduce you to Swans. Swans is the only band I consider in the realm of Rock, more specifically Post Rock, to be music for displeasure. This is not to say they are bad, in fact I absolutely love their scary music with all my heart. Such powerful musicianship they have raised since their debut of Filth in '83. Their works from their No Wave powerhouses of Cop, to their Gothic Folk Rock lamentations of White Light From the Mouth of Infinity, to their early Post Rock workings of Soundtracks For The Blind, to their now new era of excellency, the band has gone through the thick of it that they have grown old, experienced, and absolutely brilliant. I found their music to be extremely powerful in every way, but never in their career have I never finished an album of theirs fully. Even some of their most insane, skull kicking records were pretty much easy to get through, albeit very bizarre and scary. That is, though, with the exception of The Seer.

Me and The Seer is something I cannot shake off. Ever since my first attempt, just something about it, while not rubbing me in the wrong way, was very overwhelming for me. This was one year ago in 2021 when I was a Sophomore in high school, when I was still experimenting with what music I liked most. I was listening to Mother Mother, Magma, Arctic Monkeys, Nine Inch Nails. It was a brewing pot of different artists and their ideas that would later shape my life experiences with music as a whole, resulting in who I am now. Swans was amongst those artists, and I always felt a strange connection to their music. I decided, around that time, to give The Seer a chance, and my first experience with this album was so mesmerizing, but so overbearing that before getting into A Piece Of The Sky I turned it off because it felt so intense. Looking at it now, with a much broader musical palette and more of a craving for some intense music, I can see why it was so strong for me. I just couldn't handle such power. Safe to say I was not ready for psychological warfare in my music.

After listening to it again, fully this time around, man, was I missing out on some amazing music. This is still not my favorite Swans album since that goes to To Be King, but The Seer does scratch my itch for cathartic music. Its power and presence alone is quite a treat for me in the grand scheme of things, and even if not all the songs can be real home runners like the title track, The Seer Returns, Song For A Warrior, or Lunacy, 99% of the tracks on here have moments that make me feel like I am both getting embraced in comfort, whilst also getting pelted by bricks in a guerilla war zone. The band's performances, combining Folk, Drone, American Gothic Country, Post Punk, Noise, and even a tiny bit of Brutal Prog to their mix of Post Rock really makes for performances that can be both highly profound and heartfelt, but also be highly brutal and oftentimes scarring. This album is not for those who want easy listening. As I said before, this is music for pain, and no matter what type of pain it is, this album will have it.

I absolutely love Michael Gira's singing here. I think his voice ages like a fine wine the older he grows. He has that outlaw charm to his voice, combined with the more grueling musical arrangements and you get a combination of both power, glory, and wit.

The Seer, for me, has the strongest feat of making the best masochistic music you'll ever hear, but because of it comes the fault of it being too overwhelming. This is a nearly two hour goliath of a record, spanning tracks that take well over 15 minutes, sometimes reaching upwards to the 30s. Despite all the praises I can give for this album, I must address that this is certainly an album that should be digested in small doses. Don't be like me and eat it whole, because this album demands everything from you. Your attention, your thoughts, your fears. 'Stead of listening to the near 2 hours catharsis of music on here, listen to 2 or 4 tracks and after a while, listen to another 2 or 4 tracks that you haven't heard before. Maybe start with the smaller tracks and then to the bigger epics. The album's biggest high and low I can say is that it is overwhelming and demanding, which is what I expect from a Swans release, but for some who want to check out the band or this album, maybe take the album on a date first and get to know it on its smaller, more subtler moments rather than its grander scale sores.

That said, what The Seer has to offer is music that should be experienced at least once in people's lives. There will never be another album in the history of Swans like The Seer, and I think that is perfectly fine. The Seer is Swans' first of three albums that have their own unique twists and turns, and The Seer is merely one of many great examples of the band's power and glory over Post Rock. I'll say, if you are curious about the stasis of experimental music back then or now, put on a Swans record, because I guarantee you that you'll have something quite special in your hands. An amazing record that I think holds its own in the sea of Lift Your Skinny Fists and Happy Songs For Happy Peoples.

 Soundtracks for the Blind by SWANS album cover Studio Album, 1996
4.25 | 120 ratings

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Soundtracks for the Blind
Swans Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Nhelv

5 stars Now you be the mother... And I'll be your fool... I'll hide myself deep inside... Your crimson pool...

While it's obvious that this is not only Swans' breakthrough album, but one of their all-time masterpieces, it's safe to say that it's far from being accessible in the slightest: 140 minutes of post-rock can look tedious and overlong, which is why it's better to listen it side by side. Soundtracks For The Blind features a combination of Post-Rock, droning, and multiple string instruments.

As you can expect from a Post-Rock album, there isn't really much use of technicality or hardcore musicianship focused in surprising listeners with speed or agility, but rather of musicality and atmosphere achieved through classic rock instruments. Songs are very hypnotic and made to leave you in a trance, often recurring to droning. Build-ups are very common, specially in long tracks like Helpless child.

This isn't my favorite Swans album (that title belongs to To Be Kind), but it's without a doubt one of the cornerstones of Post-Rock, and one of their best records to date. Highly recommend, if you're not used to Post- Rock, try to listen to this album with an open mind. Close your eyes, relax, and let the atmosphere and mood takeover you.

Five Stars!

 Soundtracks for the Blind by SWANS album cover Studio Album, 1996
4.25 | 120 ratings

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Soundtracks for the Blind
Swans Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Isaac Peretz

5 stars An absolute masterpiece of Post-Rock. With over two hours of genre defining music, Soundtracks For The Blind isn't just a record that aged incredibly well, but also one that still remains as one of the best works of Post-Rock. You will find lots of droning as well as hypnotic instrumental tracks with occasional vocals. Songs flow very well and make you get completely submerged into its vibe. Song tracks vary greatly, from short interludes to 15-minute post rock mammoths.

There's no dispute that this is one of the most important records of its genre, and therefore requires the five star "essential" title.

 Swans Are Dead by SWANS album cover Live, 1998
3.93 | 22 ratings

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Swans Are Dead
Swans Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars SWANS are one of those bands who have some very passionate fans and usually when I give 3 stars it's about explaining why, so I offer up my complaints which just gets the fans of that band even more upset(haha). So apologies to SWANS fans for not liking this live double disc recording. SWANS like THE FLOWER KINGS seem to have a goal to fill to the brim each album they release and to make matters more(ahem) interesting they release a lot of double albums so if your like me and haven't warmed up to 140 plus minutes of music man this is a chore to spin each time. Okay I've insulted some people already but yes SWANS released this as a final recording and the first disc is called "Black" and it features music from their final tour in 1997. Not songs from one show. Same with disc two, a 1995 tour and again the tracks were picked from many shows. I don't know I just feel that this is a recording I don't want to hear again and while I've given 4 stars to many of their later albums this 1998 release just doesn't hit the spot. I honestly have never been huge on this band because of many of the lyrics and also that vibe they give off. I prefer light.
 To Be Kind by SWANS album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.97 | 232 ratings

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To Be Kind
Swans Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Artik

5 stars Frankly? I don't know why this band is here. I just don't get it. But I love them to death and this album is a masterpiece, no matter what genre and I rate it as such. This is tripple lp (I have it on vinyl) and it's so intense, so manic that it gets as close as possible to their unbelievable, cathartic live performances. Those repetitions, those layers and layers of sound, and not least - Gira's voice. Love it absolutely and unconditionaly. It's a rare thing when a band rather late in their career puts out releases as good as those in their prime. And with Swans it's a rule not an exception. All their recent records are amazing, but this is probably my favorite from their 2010-now (2021) incarnation.
Thanks to angelmk for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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