February 27, 2017 Peter Silberman – Impermanence (Album Review)
What does it mean to step back from the cacophony of life? An embrace of minimalist ideals – inspired by the songwriter’s health – are the basis for Peter Silberman’s solo debut album, Impermanence, out now on Transgressive Records. To quote a song many have heard once, this is exactly what it means to enjoy the silence.
Silberman, a Brooklyn based singer-songwriter and guitarist, is probably best known for his work with Indie Rock band The Antlers. Truth be told, The Antlers began as a solo project for Silberman but grew to be so much more, releasing five albums under the pseudonym. The project provided Silberman the opportunity to perform across the globe and share stages with the likes of Death Cab for Cutie, Spoon, and The National. The Antlers also performed on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and had their music appear in several films and television shows, including an episode of the AMC hit series, Fear the Walking Dead.
Now comes the time for Silberman to rediscover what it means to be alone. Impermanence, his debut solo disc, arrived on February 24th via Transgressive Records. It is an album forged of the deeply personal. Says Silberman, “Much of what distinguishes Impermanence from its forebears can be attributed to an unexpected injury, which forced me to consider the finite. A few years ago, I developed a hearing impairment that resulted in a temporary total hearing loss in one ear and an excruciating sensitivity to everyday sounds, including my own voice. In order to find rest and quiet, I left my Brooklyn apartment for a secluded setting in upstate New York.”
Silberman’s struggles with this hearing loss and the associated after-effects forge the core of Impermanence, a deeply personal and intimate musical journey. Impermanence is one man, a nylon-string acoustic guitar, and six songs sung at a whisper. The album was recorded in Saugerties, New York, home to the original Woodstock, a parallel to the music’s unique artistic approach and blatant honesty; a return to times when music was about, well, music.
Impermanence begins with “Karuna,” the title of which is a Buddhist term, fitting for a song that feels more like a spiritual movement than a simple introduction to Peter Silberman’s solo music. At over eight minutes in length, “Karuna” has moments of melancholy, yearning, and compassion. “Can you reach me?” Silberman pleads in this languid, artistic journey. Touching on his own personal struggles with hearing loss in “New York,” Silberman presents a beautifully-constructed, deeply personal tale. Whether you are longing for a return to a previous state or simply wishing to be in the Big Apple, Silberman’s gentle voice will take you to where you need to be.
On tracks like “Maya,” there is an intimacy that makes the listener feel as though Silberman is sitting right there – foot up on the coffee table – strumming a guitar in your living room. Equally present is a minimalist intensity, a calling to arms for those who feel. “Ahimsa” is the Hindu principle that teaches non injury to living beings, and the best track in this collection. On this truly sublime track, Silberman sings, “Before you wake the dead, take a pause instead . . . Just silence, no violence today.” It is a softly wandering, passionate plea for a modern world hell bent on destruction. The album ends with title track “Impermanence,” which begins with the gentle stroke of a cello and evolves into a darkly bizarre, experimental musical outro. It is like the sun setting after a winter storm: dramatic, bewitching, natural.
Impermanence meanders across six tracks that are built on the most minimalist foundations. Silberman makes music that is artistic Indie Rock, set at a deliciously slow pace that defies any comparisons; although he could easily tour with anyone from The Decemberists to Jack Johnson. Please remember, this is not The Antlers! Silberman’s solo effort is sultry, sincere, and poetic; a soundtrack for any artist’s most pensive moments. For its quiet intensity, sincere intimacy, and meandering journey, CrypticRock gives Peter Silberman’s Impermanence 4 out of 5 stars.