Swans' Michael Gira: "At the Best Moments, Music Plays You and Not the Opposite."

Arising from the cracks of the New York City postpunk scene in the early 1980s, Swans' music is a genre unto itself. An otherworldly sonic disturbance, their sound is aggression turned musical. Not obnoxious noise but fearsome magnificence.

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The band's clever turns take you from cacophony to gorgeous compositions. Luscious melodies and soaring moments of bliss are juxtaposed with the din. The effect is potent, both dark and beautiful.

Swans founder Michael Gira spoke to us from his New York home at the edge of the Catskills. He ruminated on how a musical project he thought he had buried 13 years ago somehow rose again from the grave. Gira is known for his ponderous baritone, the perfect vessel for lyrics like: "And I am the Sun/I rise above the world/And when the light goes out/I kill another child." This summer morning, though, the 58-year-old's voice is bright and eager to talk about The Seer, Swans' new, epic, two-hour masterpiece.

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Hans Morgenstern has contributed to Miami New Times for too many decades, but he's grown to love Miami's arts and culture scene because of it. He is the chair of the Florida Film Critics Circle, and most of his film criticism can be found on Independent Ethos ( if not in New Times.