Welcome to the third installment of Sounds of the Week, the weekly musical musings of members of the Justseeds cooperative.
Sound notes from Pete
It’s not to often that bands get back together to after a long hiatus and make some of the best music of their career, yet this is exactly what happened when Michael Gira reformed Swans a few years back. Their newest record Seer is an epic journey spanning 4 lp sides with the title track clocking in at 33 minutes.
I was lucky enough to get a chance to see them here in Milwaukee a while ago at a small club that hadn’t had a face lift since 1982; dropped ceiling and aging sound man, completing the picture. Now this most recent version of Swans, this is not the stark brutality of the 1983 Swans “Filth” era , this is extremely sophisticated, nuanced, brutal, compositions and lyrical arrangements all under the master control of the ringleader Gira, donning the white 10 gallon cowboy hat, screaming “more more, louder louder” with a raise of the hand a wincing of the face and a high kicking tattered cowboy booted foot… spirits lift, drums crescendo and the fucking bass player just keeps hammering that bass line out as if there never will come an end. The guitar player cuts a stick thin figure stoically glancing across the room some how conjuring up sounds not meant to come from such an instrument, the slide guitar player attacks multiple lap steels strapped to a stand which serves for a makeshift pedal steel, screaming painful blasts across the room, and the noise percussionist Thor, the only one not suited in the prerequisite black button up shirt (instead goes shirtless rocking the bad ass mullet) brings the music together with his handmade dulcimer, violin / chime creations looking and sounding like they only let him out of the rehearsal space on special occasions and we are here lucky enough for one of these…. 2 and 1/2 hours later these elder statesmen of experimental music finish their epic and exhausting (for both audience and band) set, take a bow and walk directly off the front of the stage to mingle with the audience for the rest of the night; truly confident in their performance and genuine in their connection with their fans.
So take a look here to get a glimpse into the world of the Swans and the making of Seer.
I’m especially impressed by the hands on work Michael Gira takes for all aspects of the Swans. I find him inspiring in his prolific creative output, and his record label Young God puts out some great music, often credited with pioneering the freak folk scene through groups like Akron Family and Devendra Banhart.
I also tremendously enjoy the Swans first album after reconvening: My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky, and so will you.
For some reason I can’t stop listening to the song “Albuquerque” this week, nostalgia?… doubtful:
Sound notes from Josh:
I haven’t been able to get The Smiths out of my head for over three months. For weeks at a time I wake up with Sheila Take a Bow playing in my skull. But don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining! Although I never listened to them as a kid, and my punk purity complex led me to reject them as too soft, I’ve come to totally love most of their music, and find it really great to work to, and put a smile on my face.