Where Swans’ Michael Gira Got His Caustic Intensity

Swans photo courtesy of Howlin' Wuelf Media.

Every Wednesday, Douglas Wolk explores the people, places and coincidences that tie disparate musicians together.

The long-running New York City band Swans’ 12th studio album, The Seer, came out this week; unsurprisingly, it’s very long, very slow, and extremely intense. Everything about the band Michael Gira has been leading since 1982 centers on the idea of unbearably powerful experience. That means, among other things, that their songs often go on for an incredibly long time. The title track of The Seer is over half an hour by itself; here’s 18 minutes’ worth of a live performance of it from last year.

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