Tonality: "The Seer" by Swans
Sometimes the skeletons of conventional pop music restrict the power of music. But in the world of Swans, experimentation is welcomed, and listeners should brace for impact.
“The Seer” proves that there is no format for the creative process, a refreshing reminder that music has never been bound to convention.
“The Seer” is not an easy album to listen to. It’s more than a musical experience: it’s a sonic manipulation of the senses. It is a primal collection of music that marries beauty with the despicable.
The two hour long album is a psychological attack. Swans knows exactly how to raise our heart rate, making us feel like we are about to be attacked. The climactic sounds of the title track tick like a pipe bomb planted in our nervous system. By the end of the thirty-minute attack, the we feel a form of satisfaction, reminding us of the music’s physical influence on the body.
“The Seer’s” intense, merciless sound torments the brain. Yet every instance of terror is followed by refreshing breaths of ecstasy: great tension then release. For fans of the carefully executed crescendo, there is a high to be derived from this album.
This album is challenging to listen to. It demands attention and commands an emotional response. The spine chills, goosebumps rise and sweat collects at the brow. The listener is transported to a dimly lit corner of their psyche, confronting previously hidden obstacles.
I remember the first time I heard the opening track “Lunacy.” I was driving by myself through the mountains. The music was so terrifying, I had to pull the car over and catch my breath.
How each of us reacts to sound is something that should be uniquely celebrated. “The Seer” is a perfect example of the relationship between the mind and external stimuli. It attacks the ear like a jackhammer, penetrating the subconscious with series of jabs, bites, kisses and stings. The listener, if not relieved at the album’s close, will most certainly be driven into madness.