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Peter Silberman is best known as the singer/song­writer with The Antlers, the US gui­tar trio, whose re­splen­dent noise is a force to be­hold at their beau­ti­ful live shows. For the last few years, how­ever, the singer has suf­fered with a hear­ing im­pair­ment that re­sulted in tem­po­rary deaf­ness, a “con­stant bliz­zard of tin­ni­tus” and an ex­cru­ci­at­ing sen­si­tiv­ity to ev­ery­day noises. Re­treat­ing from Brook­lyn to up­state New York, Silberman be­gan to heal and to cre­ate these six haunt­ing, min­i­mal com­po­si­tions – some of the qui­etest, most del­i­cate songs you’re likely to hear all year.

It be­gins with ‘Karuna’, which is San­skrit for “com­pas­sion”, as

Silberman nar­rates his frus­tra­tions with the heal­ing process, plead­ing: “They checked my flesh, they checked my heart/ They can’t detect my faulty parts/ But they say you’ll heal me/ Can you heal me?” His sweet falsetto has never sounded as frag­ile and trem­bling as it does here. In­deed, at its most tremu­lous, Silberman’s ton­sils are rem­i­nis­cent of the late Jeff Buck­ley.

Much of the al­bum sounds al­most like a di­ary of his slow re­turn to health. “When my nerve wore down, I was as­sailed by sim­ple lit­tle sounds/ Ham­mer clangs, sirens in the park/ Like I never heard

in New York”, he ad­mits on the floaty, dreamy ‘New York’, while by al­bum’s end, the singer ap­pears ten­ta­tively hope­ful that his health is on the mend.

The ar­range­ments are sparse as a beach in win­ter, Silberman and pro­ducer Ni­cholas Principe (Port St Wil­low) re­fus­ing to al­low any ex­tra­ne­ous in­stru­ments or notes into the fray. In­deed, for the most part, it’s just Silberman’s gen­tly strummed ny­lon-string acous­tic gui­tar and con­fes­sional vo­cal, with huge pauses between each chord, let­ting the si­lence be­come as much part of the mu­sic as the notes them­selves. Only the frag­ile mantra of ‘Gone Be­yond’ and ‘Ahimsa’ fea­ture min­i­mal per­cus­sion, the first as del­i­cate and pre­cious as a flower in De­cem­ber and the lat­ter a stun­ningly gor­geous paean to not do­ing harm (the ti­tle is trans­lated from San­skrit as “non-harm­ing”), where he en­cour­ages us: “Be­fore you wake the dead, take a pause/ In­stead of deaf­en­ing non­sense, share si­lence/ No vi­o­lence to­day.”

The an­tithe­sis of the three minute pop song, Im­per­ma­nence is a beau­ti­ful, hon­est and lifeaf­firm­ing al­bum that re­ally needs to be lis­tened to on head­phones, prefer­ably in the dark.


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