Peter Silberman has never been shy about laying his heart out for all to see on his albums with The Antlers. From Hospice to Burst Apart to Familiars his etheral vocals and dramatic musical arrangements show a musician not satisfied with the simple. Silberman wants to make his mark with each song. Scorched tales of loss, love, and getting on with life even when you don’t think that’s possible, these are the trademarks of a Peter Silberman record. On Silberman’s debut solo record, inspiration came from a different kind of loss: hearing loss.
A few years ago Silberman suffered from total temporary hearing loss in one ear and extreme sensitivity to everyday sounds. This led to Silberman leaving his home in Brooklyn to upstate New York where things were quieter. The hearing impairment led to painful tinnitus. He gradually regained hearing, as well as the desire to write music. He began composing songs on a nylon stringed guitar and whispering vocals to himself. The result of these toned down writing sessions are on Impermanence. It’ a six song collection of hushed tracks that sound like lullabies to pained ears and psyche. Gone are the big and blustery songs of Antlers past. Here, Silberman writes songs that seem to be soothing him back to health.
“Karuna” opens the album and seems to be the blueprint we follow throughout. It opens with quietly strummed electric guitar and Silberman’s mere whisper of a vocal and stays this way for the songs nearly 9 minute run. There’s simple percussion added to help accent a rhythm, but for the most part it’s Silberman and his guitar. “New York” continues this sparse orchestration with some tasteful keys thrown in. “Gone Beyond” spans through another contemplative 8 minutes and some change. It’s yet another fragile guitar and vocal number that has the feeling of Silberman reaching out and trying to find his footing after months of silence.
Elsewhere, “Maya” has an island feel complete with the sound of an ocean breeze in the background as Silberman plucks a ukulele and harmonizes nicely with himself. “Ahimsa” buzzes with amplifier noise as Silberman sings “Time is all we have”, giving way to a quieted desperation to make the most of what we are allotted on this earth. “Impermanence” hums with organ, piano, and guitar like something off of Grizzly Bear’s Yellow House. It’s also reminiscent of Antlers’ Hospice and that records beautifully somber tone.
Peter Silberman seems to have found his way back from the pain of sound and is once again rejoicing in the noise of melody and the refrains of musical joy. Impermanence is a subtle musical journey, but a most pleasant one.
Impermanence is out February 24th via Transgressive Records