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Swans, Seer
Young God Records, Aug. 28

10/11/12
By Eric Saeger news@hippopress.com



We’re living in a much different world than 30 years ago, when the meanest post-punk bands (Swans and Jim Thirlwell, basically) were scaring not only the straights but anyone who dared set foot in a grimy record store. Those were the days, huh, a music-scape whose ever-deepening brain murk was rooted in the same anti-art sentiment originally inspired by Marcel Duchamp’s then-scandalous 1917 toilet sculpture, Fountain, a long-obsolete watershed that still, even now, makes people work too hard to convince themselves they’re experiencing high-concept, even in the face of utterly misplaced, unwarranted snobbery. No, nowadays, you know what’s actually punk? Justin Bieber pranking McDonald’s drive-through workers. Even if he purposely stays away from the crueler “fire in the hole” exploits, it’s still the Beebs, on YouTube, making some poor po-faced fast-food manager wonder how some kid (they don’t recognize Bieber) could be such a complete nitwit.  So: take away the “this is the bleeding edge” cred, and this two-disc LP (which includes a couple of nice-enough singing turns from Karen O and the band’s longtime cipher-vixen Jarboe) often has, let’s be real, the same thudding manner as Yes’s similarly overindulgent (but universally mocked) Tales From Topographic Oceans, except Pitchfork has no choice but to insist it’s cool: there are some weird-beard noise-scapes and percussive downer beats that go on wayyy too long. For oldschool worshippers of Throbbing Gristle-style art-rock, it’s probably God, yes. But past that, I dunno, is there a video of these guys getting chased by a baby duck while some doomy way-cool noise-beat rumbles in the background?  B Eric W. Saeger





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