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The Silence are a storm that has been brewing across Japan for over a year and now that system is breaking into the skies of the rest of the world. Their debut, self-titled release proved to be simply a preamble to the fluid and formidable electro-acoustic display of ‘Hark The Silence’.
The first record was of a song-based nature, rendered with careful beauty familiar to long-time listeners of Maski Batoh and Ghost; a sounds that turned on occasion into greater journeys. Several months after finishing that album more songs were was taped during an epic recording session in an enormous studio with an audience of listeners whose presence inspired The Silence and added to the performance. However, these recordings were only a beginning and the band returned to the studio later to refine the songs in new versions, creating a powerfully jamming album that contains all the elements of music that define The Silence in flowing and transcendent performance, all of it recorded on 24-track analogue tape, a process which brings their musical and spatial elements into dynamic balance.
Everything in the universe accessible to The Silence may be found in the ‘Ancient Wind’ trilogy that fills side one of ‘Hark The Silence’. From the depths of space rolls washes of gong, through which a terse, minimal bassline comes marching. Rattles of prepared piano spark and pass through the frame, blown over with the celestial omnipotence of a flute. The now-sensuous groove is underscored with luxuriant stereophonic drums rolling across the speakers.
Representing the state of nature from which all music as well as The Silence has to come, ‘Ancient Wind Part 1’ ceases to exist and explodes into a furious Bo-Diddley beat for ‘Part 2’, a chant replete with acid-rock guitar solos, an encompassing saxophone testament and an echounit driven drum breakdown.
Part 3 of ‘Ancient Wind’ resumes the chant in the mode of ‘Gangamanag’ (from Ghost’s ‘Hypnotic Underworld’ opus) and extends the fury of the progression in 7/8 to include a dazzling organ solo over unending volcanic eruption. As the swirling mass subsides, a few rusty blue notes from an acoustic guitar are sounded over the encroaching Silence.
Recorded completely live, ‘Ornament’ continues with resonant guitar acoustics from the fading embers of the first side, starting with a gentle mode and sung by Batoh in their native tongue, before the song ascends to explorations in space with music.
‘DEX 1’ continues the ride, a heavy jam in 4/4 dedicated to Dexter Gordon with loads of texture from keyboards and saxophone that make for very compelling physical listening.
The second half of the album contains an exquisite and intense rock arrangement from Damon and Naomi with Batoh’s tremendous singing atop the pile-driving power of The Silence in full swing, plus several other awe-inspiring encounters in live performance, minimal jamming, poetry, baritone-sax breath and group-think at its best.
As the album closes with the clarion call of ‘Fireball’ the graveyard of all history traversed by The Silence is illuminated by the dead’s spirit burning in the air - a great and profoundly jarring moment. ‘Hark The Silence’ is a composite of such moments, an album that travels enormous distances and captures live energies in astonishing studio sounds.
Ancient Wind Part 1 & 2
Ancient Wind Part 3
Little Red Record