Swans' Michael Gira on The Seer, Released Today: "Once It's Done, It Just Sounds Like Dead Matter to Me"
Swans' Piercing Assault on Respectable Street, September 14, 2011
Today marks the official release date of the Swans' extraordinary two-hour journey into delicate sounds and furious din with The Seer. The New York-based group's figurehead, Michael Gira, resurrected Swans in 2010, after the band had officially broken up following a farewell tour in 1997. However, the Swans sound reemerged in his writing -- such an irrepressible beast that it is -- and he felt obliged to follow it.
With his post-Swans project, Angels of Light, now on hold, Swans has released a second album in its resurrected form, The Seer, an epic exploration of songcraft. With hammered dulcimer, slide guitar, tubular bells, and industrial-strength drumming, a better union is hard to find. The return of Swans has been nothing short of triumphant. The band has accrued the largest audiences in its history, and the soaring majesty of its recordings is receiving almost universal respect. We spoke to Gira about the new album and the band's return for what will certainly be a second brilliant South Florida show in only one year.
Michael Gira: Ho, ho, ho, ho! Thank you.
I really think it's like one of the greatest things. It's those long passages that take their time. Like you say, it's a journey.
My ideal for an album is a total experience, having in my young age listened to music from the '60s. I was born in '54, so I was 12 when it was the golden age of the album, when albums started being a work of art or something, and that's what I gravitate towards.
And this is going to be what, like three vinyl records?
Yeah [laughs]. Paradoxically, the best way to listen to this from beginning to end is digitally because then there's no breaks in it. Even on CD, it's two CDs. It's a strange thing because I'm not a big fan of digitized iTunes experiences. But I think the best way is if somebody can get high-quality files from the music they buy, I emphasize, then listen to the entire album through their computer in a stereo system, or something like that.
So this will be available in FLAC files?
I think so, yeah.
It is ironic, because iTunes shoulders part of the blame of breaking up the album.
Oh, really? [laughs]