Wall Street Journal Feb. 6+7 2013 Show Preview
Music Hall of Williamsburg
66 N. Sixth St., Brooklyn, (718) 486-5400
Few bands have mastered what Woody Allen once dismissively called rock's "heaviosity" as thoroughly or as well as Swans. Part of their strategy is to dress songs in wispy layers that compound in deceptive stores of mass, and the other part is to do away with thinking about the conventions of "rock" altogether. As contemporaries of 1980s and '90s New York noise bands like Sonic Youth, Swans were famous for playing at punishing, pummeling volume. But they also know that eerie moans and murmurs can be as affecting as a scream when directed expressly at the head. The effect plays out to dark rapture on fabled Swans records of yore, and it manifests no less menacingly on "The Seer," a double-album from last year that marks a high point in the group's recent late-period surge.