Monday, April 27, 2009

Silentist on Zum Records

I got this in a little while back for review from Zum records, home of the Zs / Child Abuse split which is part of their ongoing split single series.

Silentist is Mark Burden, formerly from Glass Candy, on drums and piano with August Alston on vocals who gives the tracks a decidedly dark, metal feel.
The youtube videos of Silentist live have them playing in the dark lit by a strobe light, so the whole package is treading in some pretty dark waters.

Side A 'The Tunnel' starts out with a crash of cymbals and a low bass piano riff, a very metal sounding repeated drum roll cycles over and over. August is screaming about living in a tunnel, something he's pretty angry about, but this isn't a castrate character... some helpless trapped victim, this is more of a warning for anyone going in to the tunnel. He can't help it, he'll have to probably kill you. You've been warned.

Even more unapologetic, 'Supernatural Barriers' is 30 seconds of August in a traditional metal near growl with ever changing time stuttered thrash metal drum patterns. August seems to be matching the pitch and tone of the rhythms, unintelligibly yelling about pain, syringes, and no justice, thanks to the lyric insert. It's a calculated burst of chaos that is irreverent in have no breathing room or pause to examine what's happening, they led you in the cave and just smashed you over the head. What did I tell you?

I think the thing here that just brings everything into a new area of metal/noise is Mark's piano. It's minimal, almost based on gesture over sound. A loop of tones one hand at a time can reach. A single key becomes hypnotic. I sense an almost epic quality to this direction... like The Mars Volta, that kind of energy, drawing on semi-classical influences to maybe elevate this out of the sea of anyone-can-make-noise.

The B-Side Paralytic is a little slower tempo piece that I have to say is my favorite of the three. Here they sound a little electronic, metallic guitar effects, and Augusts' vocals here being completely delayed and layered...almost quiet, a little in the background even. The piano takes over after this refrain and when August comes back in again it even gets melodic for a moment, before launches into some impressive yelling. The build up here is intense, the repeating piano scale is layered with guitar or bowed strings of some kind. Call me crazy, but this really shouldn't fade out...where did that standard start anyway, these guys feel too deliberate, too calculating to be fading out like a pop song.
Again I love the inherent...I don't know how to put it...cultured sound of the classical piano versus the rest of this unsettling world.

Overall it's a pretty diverse offering, they want you to know right away you'll never know what direction they'll be taking.

On their blog, you can hear a couple of EP's and a full length on a flash player.

Get the vinyl single directly from the Zum Online store.

All of Silentists other releases are on their own celestial gang label.

Silentist - The Tunnel 7"
3 songs
"The Tunnel"
"Supernatural Barriers"

We have been fans of Silentist since hearing the first EP, Nightingales. We also put out the solo piano music of Mark Evan Burden, but Silentist is a different natured project, although it prominently features the piano. Alaska native Burden released another CD EP, "Chariot Swing", under entirely his own design with the death metal-meets-new music sound that is built around howling vocals, complex drumming, piano and bass. By the time of House On the Hill, August Alston (Lords of Light, Pig Heart Transplant, Walls) joined on vocals and lyrics and added an exponential level of brooding creepiness and intensity. The latest album and first vinyl release, the self-titled Silentist LP, coalesces these elements and made a few top ten lists of 2008.

Ed Rodriguez (Deerhoof, Flying Luttenbachers) calls it "Nancarrow or Reich with blast beats." The Tunnel EP comes from the same recording sessions as this album and is the first Silentist release that is not on Burden's Celestial Gang imprint.
Zum025 pressing of 500.

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