A Hearing Impairment Inspired Some of the Songs on Indie Rocker Peter Silberman's New Album

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Taking a page out of the musical playbook of the late, great Elliott Smith, singer-songwriter Peter Silberman inflects the somber songs on his first solo album, Impermanence, with a quiet intensity.

The press release announcing its release explains that the album serves as “a continuation of the emotional odyssey he began in the Antlers with albums Hospice, Burst Apart and Familiars, moving the conversation even further down the path.”

When Silberman began writing new material for what he thought would be an Antlers’ album, he realized the tunes didn’t seem suited to the band.

“It felt like songs that didn’t need arrangements and were bare boned by design,” he says. “I had been itching for a change, or at least to do something different after several years of us revising our process as a band. At the time, I needed to shake everything up in my life and change where I was living and where I worked without disrupting that ongoing continuum that I mentioned. I didn’t know immediately it was an album I would release under my own name.”

The album documents the hearing impairment that made him leave Brooklyn for a secluded setting in upstate New York. He had lost his hearing for a stretch of a few months and became hyper sensitive to sound.

“I should clarify,” he explains. “The songs aren’t exactly about my hearing impairment. The songs on the first half reference it. That was a kind of a sea change for me in my life and the way I went about creating new music at a time where sound was a hostile force in my life. [The songs] expanded outward into a change of attitude. It was a meditation on what it is to be a living person and what mortality means to me at this point in my life and taking it away from being about an emotional loss of, say, another person and thinking about it inwardly about this physical entity that grows and then decays and changes constantly and finding natural beauty in that and examples of that in nature.”

Album opener “Karuna” features whispered vocals and intermittent guitar strums. The album builds to the closing title track, a noisier tune that makes good use of white noise and prickly guitar riffs.

“It’s a funny one,” Silberman says of the title track. “It’s a bit of an outlier and that’s intentional. The album is about coming to terms with the fleeing nature of everything, including yourself, and internalizing that and becoming more aware and compassionate and that song is intended to pull the rug out and challenge that idea. It ends on the most painful note possible. It’s almost a Kumbaya moment but “Impermanence” is supposed to rip that way.”

Silberman says he’s performed a handful of solo shows and has plans to do more touring as a solo act in the future.

“I want to bring you to a healing place, which is a bad way to describe [the show],” he says. “It is a therapeutic process. That’s the best way to describe it. It’s creating this clam place in the room with a group of people and doing what I can to be make that the dominant vibe of the evening. It’s small steps, but it feels like good work to be doing.”

To support the album, Silberman has embarked on a living room tour that includes a Cleveland stop on Monday. The location, which resides in the 44114 zip code, will be announced to ticket holders after they purchase their tickets at undertowtickets.com.

“I haven’t played living rooms in a long time," says Silberman. I did a handful of house shows back in the day before I put the band together and when we started the band we played a handful of house shows. I was a very different performer back then. I’m steering into the calm now and into the mellow, and I didn’t understand when I was younger that that was okay to do. That’s the glue of the music and what gives it its character and makes it a different kind of show.”

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