July 10, 2012

Review: The Antlers – ‘Undersea’ EP

Posted in Reviews tagged , at 5:10 pm by essentiallyeclectic

The Antlers – Undersea EP

With the average attention span attributed to new bands now lasting roughly the length of time between the first MP3s materialising online and the release of a debut album, it’s a gratifying victory when a group remain relevant long enough to mature and fully develop their sound. Six years on and star still rising, it appears that that’s exactly what The Antlers have managed.

Brooklynite Peter Silberman and his co-conspirators hit on the closest realisation of their musical ambition last year with the release of 4th album Burst Apart – 10 songs of unhurried, keyboard-heavy arrangements; Silberman crooning largely unintelligible lyrics in a subtly velveteen voice with hints of underlying melodrama. In The Antlers’ capable hands, it was a winning formula – one that’s been tweaked and refined for this sublime 4- track EP.

Undersea as nominative description is perfect: like all of The Antlers’ work, the release drifts along in an opulently languid fashion, with every cut sounding like it’s in various stages of floating or submersion. Silberman’s voice, delicately laced with reverb, sits atop arrangements dappled with understated electronics and the band’s trademark keyboard layers, all structured towards the titular theme. ‘Drift Drive’ pairs a lilting guitar phrase with layers of soft trumpet and slow, broken tempos to act as the EP’s calling card. An accompanying, minute-long promotional clip aptly sets the track to grainy, blue-washed footage of footsteps in the sand and peaceful sea creatures as both a visual and sonic template for Undersea‘s shimmering concept.

‘Endless Ladder’ – an 8-minute-plus slow build of gentle keys and characteristically spare drum work – is a real delight, leading into another in ‘Crest’, whose name alone suggests a peak that is backed up by Silberman’s forlorn, almost jazz-like melody, and further touches of muted trumpet from Darby Cicci.

There is nothing here in the vein of ‘I Don’t Want Love’ – the slightly MOR-ish push for mainstream recognition from the otherwise flawless Burst Apart album – instead there is only a leaner, more perfectly realised sample of The Antlers’ musical manifesto. Closer ‘Zelda’, with its descending chords and keyboard washes, bookends the EP perfectly. After building to a zenith, the track strips down to the bare bones of the arrangement and quietly excuses itself before slipping beneath the waves.

Silberman et al must be aware that they have created an EP of transcendent quality here; but if there is no album to follow it up, hearts may be broken.

Read this review in context over at THE 405

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