REVIEW: Daniel Rossen – Silent Hour/Golden Mile EPPosted: March 20, 2012
There is nothing I would like more this year than a new LP from Grizzly Bear. I know they’re recording one. I know it. But when will it drop? I should be glad then that guitarist/vocalist of the band, Daniel Rossen, has released a lovely five track EP that will tide me over somewhat until that day arrives. In fact, even when they’re not releasing full-lengths as a band, individual members seem to be involved in an illustrious discography themselves (such as Chris Taylor‘s album with Twin Shadow as CANT, last year, and Department of Eagles‘ output). So, although it may have been three years since the superb Veckatimest, music keeps trickling out from the collective.
Silent Hour/Golden Mile is an EP filled with the kind of dense atmospherics that you would expect from Grizzly Bear, but it all tad more stripped down than the material of the full band. There are still some pretty complex dynamics on display here, but obviously they’re layered a little more thinly than when there’s a full band at work. An array of instrumentation inhabit the tracks; guitars, strings, piano. It’s all quite standard fare, but they’re all delicately arranged so well. Rossen has a natural talent for crafting lush, thought-out arrangements, and it’s in full effect on this EP.
In the age we live in, of bedroom recording and GarageBand being a primary tool to put out songs, it’s refreshing to hear a record that’s so organic. It’s very sparse in the way of electronic instrumentation, instead opting for much more traditional sound that Grizzly Bear built itself upon. The EP also shares Grizzly Bear‘s trademark for immaculate production values. It’s obvious that Rossen‘s time in the band has definitely influenced his solo work vastly, but that’s to be expected.
The five tracks all have quite distinct tones to them. Opener ‘Up On High‘ is a great introduction, filled with jangling guitar strums, soothing strings and whimsical vocals. The way Rossen sings “In this big empty room, finally feel free” indicates that the recording process was cathartic for him, and the songs feel very genuine and introspective. ‘Back On Form‘ is definitely the liveliest of the bunch, with a gorgeous midpoint of trumpets, guitars and drums all simmering together to form something quite marvellous. In contrast, the following track ‘Saint Nothing‘ is a slow-burning piano ballad, filled with moody imagery and a simple melody. The song trails off at the end with Rossen repeating “How long?” The rhetoric underlines the confused poignancy of the whole song.
With his solo EP, Rossen has showcased the talent, ambition and versatility he possesses as an individual and not just as a member of a band. Still, I can’t help but feel like the EP is one hell of a tasty appetiser for what’s to come. If Silent Hour/Golden Mile is any indication of how the next Grizzly Bear record will sound, we have quite a record on our hands.