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.
Though the first manifestation of his condition wasn’t deep silence, but a constant static. “Years of playing loud shows had me familiar with the high-pitched whine of tinnitus, but this was more like a Niagara Falls in my head,” explains Silberman. “When the brain isn’t correctly receiving and interpreting signals, it seems to produce its own placeholder sound. It’s as if the careful organization of sonic elements becomes jumbled and disordered.”
“Once silence ceased to be available to me, I came to think of it as the luxury of well-calibrated perception. We mistakenly perceive it as nothing, but it’s a precious, profound entity. It became obvious to me why many prayers are silent, performed in immaculately quiet spaces.”
“For those several weeks, I was so sensitive to my own voice that I couldn’t talk or sing. I had to consider my life without music, to accept the loss of what was central to my being,” says Silberman. “It became painfully clear that I needed to turn the volume down, and I began to consider how I might continue to perform without doin