April 9, 2009

Getting to know the Antlers

I listened to the Antlers for the first time last night. I don't know why it took me so long. The Brooklyn, New York band's sound is captivating and deeply affective, almost to the point of having a physiological power over the listener.

The music often comes slowly and in waves. First shallow and harmless, then again with a magnetic pull that makes it nearly impossible to turn away your attention.

The Antlers is led by 22-year-old vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Peter Silberman. The project started with Silberman recording songs alone in his Manhattan kitchen and has grown into a three-person Brooklyn-based group with the addition of banjo and trumpet player Darby Cicci and drummer Michael Lerner.

Hospice, released last month, is a concept album of sorts: a self-described elegy for Silberman's year-and-a-half dissapearance in 2006. Accordring to the Antlers' Web site, Silberman stayed "cocooned in his apartment, hiding away from friends, family, and most of the city." When he emerged, he began to record Hospice—a process which took another year-and-a-half. Silberman opted to not rent a formal studio space for the album and instead recorded the songs in the freedom of his own home. He describes the process with Interview Magazine's Lucy Madison:
I was kind of writing and recording at the same time—and writing through the recording: kind of putting down ideas and building upon them. Sometimes the songs would take on a life of their own based on different experiments. So I wasn't sure exactly how it was going to sound until it was done, but that's usually how I end up writing songs

Silberman's music is not for everyone. Tones are often mercurial, changing from soft one moment to dark and heavy the next. But the experience, even for a loosely connected listener, is a cathartic one. Notes and melodies instantly dig under your skin and stay there for hours at a time. Whether it's today or sometime in the future, the Antlers deserve a listen.

The Antlers - The Universe Is Going To Catch You (from In The Attic of the Universe) 
The Antlers - Two (from Hospice)

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