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While Impermanence is Peter Silberman’s first solo album, it could easily be thought of as a continuation of the emotional-spiritual odyssey begun through his work in The Antlers over the past decade. It travels some of the thornier terrain of the trio’s previous albums Hospice, Burst Apart, and Familiars, while carrying the conversation further down the path.
But much of what distinguishes Impermanence from its forebears can be attributed to an unexpected injury, which imposed upon the musician considerable time and space to ponder the finite.
A few years back, Silberman developed a hearing impairment in his left ear that resulted in a temporarily total hearing loss, extraordinarily loud tinnitus, and an excruciating sensitivity to everyday noises. The condition required extensive rest and quiet, and in order to get that, he left his Brooklyn apartment for a more secluded setting in upstate New York.
The six songs have an economy of expression, the spaces between the words as important as the words themselves. Like the infamous Miles Davis quote: “It's not the notes you play, it's the notes you don't play.”
As the writing neared completion, Silberman linked up with his long-time friend and collaborator, Nicholas Principe of Port St. Willow. Over the course of a few winter months, Principe engineered the album in his upstate People Teeth studio, contributing production throughout. Together, they carved out a sacred sonic space, elongating the distance between notes, between chords, utilizing minimal arrangements to allow breathing room.
But the album goes beyond experiments in ambience. It actually traces the stages of healing, as Silberman experienced them.
“The sequence charts a circular course between distress and peace,” he explains. “The final track returns you to the mood of the first by a wormhole through a single breath, split in half across the last and first seconds of the album. It mimics the cyclical nature of facing unexpected obstacles.”
“I hope Impermanence can provide comfort to people grappling with transition, while remaining honest about it. There’s no remedy for the unpredictable, and I want this record to reflect that, to offer an alternative way to think about changing circumstances.”
2 New York
3 Gone Beyond