MINIMALIST SOLO DEBUT FROM THE ANTLERS’ FRONTMAN
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.
OUT NOW/JOHN WALSHE