Silent Hour/Golden MileAlbum |
Much more than a side project to a side project.
On his first solo outing, Grizzly Bear and Department of Eagles member Daniel Rossen doesn't try to escape the considerable shadows of the much-lauded bands he belongs to, instead opting to ruminate in the dark corners that have always lurked below the gorgeously polished surfaces of his music. Though Rossen continues to draw inspiration from the most sophisticated orchestral pop and folk of the psychedelic era, his largely self-recorded Silent Hour/Golden Mile EP sounds nearly skeletal compared with Veckatimest or In Ear Park, both lusciously produced by Grizzly Bear's Chris Taylor. But the barebones sound tends to work in the EP's favor, lending a dusty charm to the astral strains of lap steel guitar and subdued horn swells that speckle Silent Hour, and a surprisingly earthy power to the chunky riff that briefly punctuates rousing centerpiece "Return to Form." While the downgrade in fidelity merges neatly into Rossen's anachronistic aesthetic, it's the mournful songs themselves that leave a lasting impression; the glossless recording simply provides an appropriately sepia-toned palette for the haunting material. At once ethereal and elegiac, enigmatic piano dirge "Saint Nothing" ranks as one of Rossen's finest works and stands as the EP's highlight. Yet, from the panicked undercurrent that propels the galloping "Silent Song" to the fingerpicked intensity of the sun-dappled yet spectral "Golden Mile," Silent Hour as a whole offers evidence that Rossen doesn't need a sparklingly vivid backdrop to succeed, his sturdy songs capable of flourishing in the most barren of sonic landscapes.