Luksuzni svemirski pogrebi, balade za napuštanje ljudske frekvencije i ulazak u epsku orbitu "oceanskih osjećaja" - klorofil za stvaranje osjećaja.
Since the Brooklyn trio’s emergence in 2009, the Antlers have developed a reputation for the conceptual. Their breakthrough album Hospice, which centered on a patient with terminal cancer, reflected at length on the nature of disease and mortality, while 2011 follow-up Burst Apart hinged on sparse imagery of decaying relationships. Even when the band crossed into the realm of weep-rock, they remained rooted in a conceptual dreamworld. Now, the Antlers have released Undersea, a four-song EP that they claim imitates “the serenity of drifting off to sleep or sinking to the bottom of the ocean.”
But Undersea does more than just imitate. Vibrant and evocative, this EP plunges the Antlers deep into submarine territory, and the trio’s gorgeous vision is often scored with mythical undertones. Like a collection of ancient Atlantis folksongs, Undersea carries an undeniable sense of mythos. Yet despite all its grandiosity, this EP remains rooted in a self-reflective present. Avoiding both nostalgia and urgency, the Antlers languish in an underwater reality, turning inward for four songs of brooding self-examination.
“Drift Drive,” the opening track, immerses listeners in a glistening, slow-moving lullaby. Like a long-lost sea creature, it sinks deep into the ocean and inches slowly across a darkened seabed. Yet beneath the submerged dreaminess lies an electric current, a pulse that allows the Antlers to completely avoid stagnation. Undersea then dives into “Endless Ladder,” nine minutes of phosphorescent bliss. Shimmery and lysergic, “Endless Ladder” makes up over a third of the EP’s running time. It flies by.
“Crest” is the shortest track on Undersea, and it’s a somber plea for intimacy. But, unlike some Antlers tracks of old, “Crest” stays clear of being maudlin. It gushes with synth noise and frontman Peter Silberman’s swelling emotions. “Bathe underwater with me/Swim til you’re half asleep,” he sings. Undersea concludes with the ambient trip-hop of “Zelda,” a meditation on separation.
Silberman has always been one for emotional — if sometimes sentimental — music, and Undersea is no exception. But the theme of water and the overarching feeling of submersion distances the heartache a bit, and the mopey self-pity seems just a bit further away. Rather than swimming in Silberman’s tank of watery despair, we’re watching from the other side of the glass.
Great EPs can be hard to come by. Too often, artists combine mediocre tracks that didn’t make the cut for the last record with demo versions of fan favorites. Undersea happily defies that trend. Deliberate and coherent, the 22-minute release soaks in a flood of vivid, self-contained bliss. Fans of the pained sentimentality on Hospice may find themselves disappointed, but Undersea’s drenched distance reveals a maturity that the Antlers have never before displayed. -
Turmoil is in Peter Silberman's DNA. Leading up to the release of 2011's Burst Apart, the frontman for Brooklyn soundscape-rockers the Antlers told Pitchfork's Ryan Dombal that his band's fourth LP would be less emotionally wrenching than the previous record that put them on the map, 2009's Hospice. "This is not a sad record... It does have an emotional punch, but it's a little less desperate. There are no life or death situations on this record, no terminal illness, no abusive relationships." How'd that turn out, anyway? Well, Burst Apart's opening song is called "I Don't Want Love", and its closing song compares a relationship to a dead dog. Lovers are shunned, teeth fall out, hopelessness is conveyed throughout, and at one point the protagonist seemingly (and willingly) lets a house fire engulf him and whoever else there is inside. Maybe he was joking.
To be fair: While Burst Apart contained its fair share of emotional evisceration, the stakes did seem somewhat lower, or at least less immediately life-shaking. As a lyricist, words have rarely failed Silberman (see: the literate hospitalization-as-cohabitation narrative storytelling of Hospice), but with time he's developed a sense of linguistic economy, which has in turn made the displayed imagery more cryptic and threatening. Perhaps not coincidentally, as the word count decreased, the Antlers zoomed past the early specter of a Funeral Jr. albatross and evolved into something much more interesting: a warm, expansive, and at times hair-raising space-rock band with its attention turned toward fleshy matters, rather than the stars above.
There were hints of this potential to be found in Hospice-- big booming stretches of ambient guitar wash and tape-decayed vocals-- but that record's emotional, singularly focused claustrophobia was so intense and choking that when Sharon Van Etten showed up near the end of the trippy, strung-out "Thirteen", it felt like an intrusion. Burst Apart was all widescreen-lens, though, with guitars that chimed and rolled into some golden void, fog pouring out of keyboards, and so much empty nothingness surrounding the proceedings that everything took on a hollow 3D glow. The album's centerpiece, "Rolled Together", managed to out-Sigur Rós the great Hopelandic ones themselves in just under five minutes; when the band performed the song with Brooklyn bros Neon Indian for last year's regrettable (together) EP, they doubled the length. The results weren't ideal, but it made sense.
And so the Antlers psychedelically steamroll along with Undersea, a four-track release that's been described as "an EP in length, but well beyond that in scope." (If that sounds like bong-session speak, remember Silberman's perfect prescription for listening to "Rolled Together": "best heard stoned with friends".) Since the band become a multi-person concern and broke free from its solo-project beginnings, the Antlers have been credited for production as a group, and their sense of hermetic, mutually reliant interplay has never been stronger than it is here. As they often do, the trio's created its own world within the 22 minutes allotted here-- only, the vibe is pure aftermath, with smoke rising from fresh embers and the environment taking on a lush yet deserted texture. If Hospice and Burst Apart were dark, rolling hills headed toward catharsis, well, here's the bottom.
And what a gorgeous arrival it is. Every detail on Undersea sounds like breakable goods bought at a high-end flatwares store, and I mean that as the highest compliment-- it's all wrapped in thick, translucent gauze, not so much crash-landing as simply (but heavily) kissing the ground upon impact. "Endless Ladder", an eight-minute perpetual comedown with a title that's almost eye-rollingly evocative, surfs a single, stretchy riff with zen carelessness as frissons of synth noise and burbly echo-mic'd whine pass by. It's almost maddeningly head-in-the-clouds, but also something that, if it hits you at just the right time, you could possibly listen to on loop for hours. "Endless Ladder"'s three companions on Undersea aren't as openly contemplative (although the harp-and-horn blare of "Drift Dive" certainly comes close), instead leaning on the dark sonic undercurrents of post-adolescent tension that makes this band a big deal to many people.
Still, the Antlers at their most mopey are still plenty elegant, so the dirge-like "Crest" ripples with laser swooshes and rattlesnake percussion, mining new depths of total paranoia. Speaking of feelings: There are plenty of them on display (this is the Antlers, after all), as Undersea's water-based theme finds a few uses for H2O other than pure hydration-- drowning, flooding, and subsequently destroying the world, and in the case of the sad-eyed kiss-off closer "Zelda", separating those who love one another.
Silberman's lyrics are as simultaneously distant and evocative as ever, but the overwhelming amount of detail surrounding them renders them somewhat irrelevant here, a bubbling treasure chest in Undersea's sonically overwhelming fish tank. If you're the type that "can relate" to the Antlers' highwire drama, there's a solid chance this release could leave you cold. (On the other hand, if Hospice left you jeeringly and incorrectly shouting "My Bloody Bright Eyes!" then you just might love this.)
"I'm not listening to [Neutral Milk Hotel's] In the Aeroplane Over the Sea as much as I was when I was 19," Silberman also told us back in the beginning of 2011, listing Portishead, Dirty Three, Boards of Canada, and the various strains of post-rock and electronic music as emerging influences in the now 25-year-old's musical mindset. Namechecking obscurists and hip-to-death backseat drivers (both of which are plentiful in the Antlers' native Brooklyn landscape) would quite possibly sneer at these admissions-- who hasn't had a moment with Geogaddi in their 20s?-- but what struck me upon reading those quotes, specifically, was Silberman's sincerity in growing as a music listener.
So just as Silberman has laid bare his own messy, tormented angst as a means of moving on and becoming stronger, the Antlers as a band are growing up, and growing forth, into a career that's accruing fascinating weight with every move they make. They are a popular band, but in today's cool-kid, all-new-all-the-time musical culture, their emotional straightforwardness and debt to the since-canonical sounds of the past means that they perpetually risk being underappreciated. So ignore them if you dare, but consider yourself warned, too, that watching one of the biggest little groups in Brooklyn conjure such fascinating sonic shapes is becoming a reward in itself. - Larry Fitzmaurice
The Antlers released Undersea with a Facebook video featuring a pair of dolphins swirling around in an After Dark screensaver like you’d see in your tenth grade classroom. The text reads: “Happy Undersea! Thank you from Antlercorp! Love, Darby, Michael and Peter.” Such a video could never have paired with 2009’s Hospice (a concept album about a hospice worker and a patient dying of cancer), or last year’s Burst Apart, which was devastating in its own way. And earlier this month, the band posted a promotional video entitled “What would flipper do (wwfd)?”, with yet another pair-o-dolphins. So, it’s clear that things are looking a bit less bleak for this beloved Brooklyn-based band.
Undersea, according to The Antlers’ Web site, is “the serenity of drifting off to sleep or sinking to the bottom of the ocean,” and the band executed its vision damn near perfectly. The EP moves like an octopus traversing the big blue: the slow guitar, meditative drums, haunting horns, and effects sink into four tracks that almost listen as one, yet stand out individually.
“Drift Drive” fosters the album’s theme as a saxophone and synthesizers swirl around Peter Silberman’s croon, singing that “the planet drowns in a hundred days/dissolving into a million pieces in a billion places.” The eight-minute “Endless Ladder” drifts deeper into ambient headphone effects than the band has ever gone before. “Crest”, the most surprising (and sexy) piece of Undersea, sees Silberman’s signature falsetto climb to the next level, as he hits lines like “bathe underwater with me” and “I’m the ocean under you.” The song’s slow haunt sounds like a sister track for Burst Apart’s “Rolled Together”, though “Crest” rocks a little less hard (we are drifting in the ocean, after all).
The textural, deep-dive tracks of Undersea are a refreshing transition, recorded during a two-month block of time off. There’s also more coming in the near future, as Silberman told Rolling Stone: “I’m ready to make the next record. I feel like I’m in a really good place.” Until then, we’ll drift about with this EP. - Amanda Koellner
Stariji The Antlers: Burst Apart i Hospice: