Veterans of avant-garde post-rock, Swans bring 30 years of experimental experience to a dramatic peak with two discs of chaos and beauty. Anchored by three tracks stretching past 19 minutes with only momentary lapses of Western conventionality, The Seer stands as an immense and jarring homage to unpredictability. Clocking over a half-hour, the magnum opus title cut begins with a chorus of legato wailing that fades into a static rattle then rises into a psychedelic Arab groove. Vocal chants and double-time marches morph into a crescendo that scrapes the sky before flagging into a violent heave-ho of desperate cymbal hits that redefine the song, which plods harder and harder until it remises into a perishing wheeze of harmonica. Welcome to birth and death. Standing apart in the interfusion of craftsman doom dirges, orchestral squeaking, grandiose climaxes, and Michael Gira's flipped-out vocals is the Karen O sung "Song for a Warrior," an acoustic ballad instructing the protagonist to "destroy and begin again." On The Seer, Gira is that warrior and tradition his prey. (The Swans land at La Zona Rosa, Friday, Sept. 14.)
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