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Analogs: Swans – The Seer

By ; August 28, 2012 at 1:34 PM 

In Analogs, we’ll be taking a look at two records that share some interesting parallels to an album out that week. Whether it be an album from 50 years back that bears some quiet influence, or an under-appreciated record from last week, if you like the record in question, you’re sure to like its Analogs.


This week we’re looking at analogs to The Seer by Swans, but make sure to check out our full review.


 

No New York

No New York, the 1978 Brian Eno curated compilation documenting New York’s fabled No Wave scene, collects twelve tracks recorded by four bands (James Chance & The Contortions, Teenage Jesus & The Jerks, Mars, and DNA) whose influence is still felt anywhere the familiarity of guitars, bass, and drums is being turned against itself. Of course, the immediate beneficiaries of the ground laid by No Wave were bands tailoring the genre’s take on detuned guitar noise to more sophisticated ends in the early-80s New York City underground. Bands like Theoretical Girls, Sonic Youth, and Swans. You can trace Swans’ plodding, droning death marches up through to The Seer right back to Lydia Lunch’s Teenage Jesus & The Jerks and their depressive, detuned anti-rock petulance. But where The Jerks sought to deface, letting the sagging weight of rock’s pretense crumble upon itself, Swans build, using rock’s primal id foundation and brooding industrial atmospheres to construct monuments in its place.


 

Snowman – The Horse, The Rat and The Swan

The parallels between Perth, Australia rock outfit, Snowman, and Swans is right out in the open on The Horse, The Rat and The Swan: industrial, insane-asylum atmospheres, eviscerating tribal drum dirges, ghostly vocal choruses, squalling, feedback-drowning guitars. Hell, “Swan” is right there  in the title (though probably beside the point). The arrival of The Seer makes a revisit to one of the most overlooked records recorded by one of the most overlooked bands to tool around in the realm of noisy, drone-y rock all the more pressing (they broke up last year after delivering an excellent followup to The Horse). In regard to The Seer, there’s something to be said for The Horse‘s brevity. Snowman wield tightly wound song structures around a gnashing Frank Black-esque throat thrash and mortar rounds of psychobilly guitar noise before descending into dreamy, synthy solace, the tirade of screams exchanged for a chunky gothic baritone within a span of seconds. Snowman operate like a pack of confined wild man-animals, single-mindedly trying to escape their cage. Or as Joe Mckee hauntingly and repeatedly screams like a bloody-mouthed madman at the end of “The Gods of the Upper House”, “We are machines.”


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