As Peter Silberman counts down the days to his European tour, which includes a performance at St John’s on Bethnal Green on 18 April, The Antlers frontman continues to release chapters of ‘Impermanence at the Glass House’.
A six-part performance film that follows the arc of his debut solo album ‘Impermanence’, it comprises a series of intimate sessions filmed by director Derrick Belcham and featuring dancers Rebecca Margolick and Stephanie Crousillat.
“It is rare to find a project in which each element is a person, practice and aesthetic that I love completely,” says Belcham of the project filmed on a single day at architect Philip Johnson’s Glass House museum.
“The sound of Peter’s performance reflecting off the surfaces and enclosures, Rebecca and Stephanie’s spatial relationship with the architecture of the Glass House, the visual reflection of the House itself, the exchange of words and chords with the bodies of the dancers augmented by Natasha Takemoto and Joy Wolcott’s perfectly-toned garments created a beautiful world to explore with the camera.
“These dynamic partnerships allowed for theatre-level exploration as the events were captured in a single take and single shot.”
‘Impermanence’ itself documents Silberman’s reintroduction to sounds following a hearing impairment that forced him to leave Brooklyn in search of peace and quiet.
“Much of what distinguishes ‘Impermanence’ from its forebears can be attributed to an unexpected injury, which forced me to consider the finite,” the musician explains.
“It would be some time before I experienced silence again, thanks to a constant blizzard of tinnitus. Once silence ceased to be available to me, I came to think of it as the luxury of well-calibrated perception. We mistakenly perceive it as nothing, but it’s precious, a profound entity. It became obvious to me why many prayers are silent, performed in immaculately quiet spaces,” he continues.
As his condition improved he gradually returned to playing his acoustic guitar (“gently”) and singing in whispers.
“I was conscious to only say what needed to be said,” he explains. “The six songs have an economy of expression, the spaces between the words as important as the words themselves. I often thought of the Miles Davis quote: ‘It’s not the notes you play, it’s the notes you don’t play.’”
The sparse and minimalist songs that emerged continued the journey he’d begun with The Antlers.
“‘Impermanence’ illustrates our uncertain world, where everything and everyone is a temporary participant. It provides no remedy for the unpredictable, but instead offers another way to think about changing circumstances,” Silberman reveals.
“I hope it can provide some comfort to those of us grappling with transition, which is, undoubtedly, all of us.”