Swans will be kicking off their first touring of 2013 with two NYC dates to make up for the show cancelled in the face of Hurricane Sandy last year. They are touring in celebration of the August 28 release of the 2 CD set The Seer, the second new studio album from Swans since their reactivation by band primum mobile Michael Gira in 2010 after a 14 year hiatus. The Seer has wound up on Year End Best of lists ranging from Time Magazine to the New Yorker to Spin, Pitchfork et cetera. The touring line-up is: Michael Gira – guitar, voice (original Swans); Norman Westberg – guitar (original Swans); Christoph Hahn – guitar (mid period Swans and most Angels Of Light); Phil Puleo – drums, percussion, dulcimer etc etc (final Swans tour and most Angels); Chris Pravdica – bass and gadgets (Flux Information Sciences / Services/ Gunga Din); Thor Harris – drums, percussion, vibes, dulcimer, curios, keys, etc etc… (Angels / Shearwater). I’m hoping you’ll consider advancing this show with a feature, CD review or advance blurb. The dates are:
2/6/2013 Brooklyn, NY Willamsburg Music Hall
2/7/2013 Brooklyn, NY Willamsburg Music Hall
The Seer was recorded by the touring line-up at Studio P4 and Andere Baustelle in Berlin, by Kevin McMahon and at Marcata Studio, Gardiner, NY, by Kevin McMahon. Additional recording was done at Trout Recording, Brooklyn, NY, engineered by Bryce Goggin. The album was mixed by Kevin McMahon at Marcata, produced by Michael Gira.
Gira says of the new album, “The Seer took 30 years to make. 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. The songs began on an acoustic guitar, then were fleshed out with (invaluable) help from my friends, then were further tortured and seduced in rehearsals, live and in the studio, and now they await further cannibalism and force-feeding as we prepare to perform some of them live, at which point they’ll mutate further, endlessly, or perhaps be discarded for a while. Despite what you might have heard or presumed, my quest is to spread light and joy through the world. My friends in Swans are all stellar men. Without them I’m a kitten, an infant. Our goal is the same: ecstasy! “
Thirty years ago, New York City institution Swans were playing grinding, murderously ugly noise. Fifteen years ago, they were playing quiet, solemnly beautiful dirges. Now front man Michael Gira, the Cormac McCarthy of rock ‘n’ roll, has found a third path: the sound of a celestial sledgehammer descending. The Seer takes its time with listeners in much the same way a cat takes its time with a mouse – its 11 songs add up to almost two hours – and it’s surprisingly delicate and gentle in places. Bit by bit, though, these songs bear down and become an apocalyptic show of force.
Douglas Wolk/Time Magazine 12/7
Oh man, this thing is a doozy. A merciless two hours of pummeling Glenn Branca-esque metal and desolate tumbleweed doom from the recharged alt-noise legends, spanning two CDs or three pieces of vinyl. The massive guest list could be a summer preview in itself: Karen O of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker of Low, classic Swans sparring partner Jarboe, and the whole damn Akron/Family on background vocals.
Christopher Weingarten/Spin.com 6/26
Swans had a great plan to offset the world’s increasing precarity: build a semi-career discussing police brutality and labor relations, stick around until your lyrics have become Twitter fodder, then turn up stronger at fifty-eight than you were at twenty-eight, quite possibly outlasting the most famous band of your cohort. Michael Gira and Swans aren’t just better than your favorite band-they’re harder, better, slower, and simply work more than their peers. (Just watch this.) On Gira’s own label, Swans put out two double CDs, one a document of the tour that brought them to town several years ago for a show at Brooklyn’s Masonic Temple that I can recall as easily as I can my own address. The other was a new studio CD, “The Seer,” as steady as it is cathartic. “channel ORANGE” accompanied me everywhere, but “The Seer” gave me hope. Gira and his band know how to reclaim well-worn moves. Long builds that behave like crescendos simply even out and remain suspended, drones that never deliver an easy payoff. Other songs just turn the corner and explode. Armed with bells and hammer dulcimers or guitars and drums, Swans is more awesome (in the “Moby-Dick” sense) now than when were when they were young.
Sasha Frere Jones/NewYorker.com/online/blog 12/31
Michael Gira founded the seminal NYC band Swans in 1982. Quickly infamous for their punishing, brutal and repetitive onslaughts of sound, extreme volume levels, and the self-abusing, abject shouts and growls of Gira’s sloganeering vocals, Swans gradually transformed over 15 years, ultimately venturing into harsh mechanical proto-industrial rock, to sprawling shifts of texture and perspective (see the bucolic atmospheric folk idles and martial stomps of their much heralded Children of God double LP from 1987), to gentle acoustic-based songs, and finally on to their ultimate statement, Soundtracks For The Blind (1997) which somehow incorporated all of these elements at once, across well over 2 hours of music in one album. At this point, Gira called it quits after 15 years of relentless touring and productivity, and disbanded Swans. Since 1999 Gira has released his music under the name Angels Of Light. He also produced and released music through his label Young God Records. He’s been responsible for such notable talents as Devendra Banhart, Lisa Germano, Akron/Family, and James Blackshaw.
SWANS World Tour 2013
2/13/2013 SydneyManning Bar
2/15/2013 MelbourneCorner Hotel
2/16/2013 MelbourneATP Festival
3/22/2013RomaCircolo Degli Artisti
3/26/2013Yverdon-les-Bains L’Amalgame club
3/29/2013Esch-Sur-AlzetteCentral Cultrel Kulturfabrik
4/4/2013LondonKoko- Mouth to Mouth Curator Event
4/5/2013LeedsStulus – Leeds University Union