The Antlers | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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The Antlers

A Divided Mind

Jul 01, 2014 Issue #50 - June/July 2014 - Future Islands Bookmark and Share

As a master storyteller, The Antlers’ Peter Silberman has developed an uncanny method of exploring the contours of his mind through the interpersonal dynamics in his songs, playing his characters off each other to poke at universal truths. His anxieties, his fears, his disappointmentsall of these are rolled into carefully detailed character sketches that are given space to breathe and interact with each other. But as he started working on Familiars, the Brooklyn band’s fifth full-length release, he encountered a problem. He didn’t recognize the characters in his songs anymore.

“In the past, on Hospice, I had a pretty clear idea of who was talking to whom,” Silberman says. “Even in Burst Apart, to an extent, I’d written songs where I knew that I was communicating with this person in my life or I was communicating through music with them. With this one, I didn’t know. It was hard to pinpoint, and I think at a certain point, I realized that I was simultaneously talking to people I knew, but first and foremost I was talking to myself. And in order to make that make sense, in order to make that coherent, I decided that I needed to think of it as two people, even if it was two identical, or nearly identical, people. That conversation was happening within the same mind.”

Perspective is key to understanding the album, Silberman says, explaining that many of the songs present a narrator who is essentially wrestling with different versions of himselfsome who are reassuring “like an old friend” and others who are menacing, full of confusion and doubt. Add in the somber, mid-tempo arrangements, featuring heavy doses of bandmate Darby Cicci’s trumpet, and the textures are the perfect backdrop for some sober self-searching. Gone are the samples and loops of recent releases, replaced with richly textured, streamlined arrangements that settle into one hazy mood, from the ethereal rise and fall of album opener “Parade” to the soulful guitar lines of “Surrender.” But if Silberman uses his songwriting as a form of self-exploration, what exactly did he learn?

“I don’t know,” he laughs. “I don’t know that there are any answers, really. But I don’t think I’ve ever had that kind of certainty about anything. I think this whole experience has opened my mind and changed a lot of my perspective on what I’ve been doing in my life up to this point and has given me some ideas about where I might go next. But I think a lot of this record, for me, was about getting a better handle on myself, getting to know the past better.

My past. And that’s a kind of thing that takes time.”

[Note: This article first appeared in Under the Radar’s June/July 2014 print issue (Issue 50).]


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