Saturday, 25 August 2012

The Antlers - Undersea

The temptious and somewhat chaotic 'Hospice' served a great purpose in 2009. Rising out of seclusion, Peter Silbermann put together a lyrically pleasing album remembered by so many for it's sadly depressive concept. The simplicity of this record spurred The Antlers into releasing a cooler and refreshing follow-up, with 'Burst Apart' in 2011. Although thoroughly enjoyed, I couldn't help but notice a contrasting emptiness. Hearing The Antlers play these songs live in the same year made me realize Peter's desire for melancholy dream pop. It's no surprise to me that 'Undersea' has the same soft edges and delinquent atmospheres as Burst Apart.

Hospice was a one off album. It's not easily accessible nor 'deep'. It was quite simply a cry for help and understanding. Peter let go with a concept and the outcome was magnificent. This is no more. Undersea has literally been stripped down and produced seemingly to fit with image of a steady flowing body of water. 'Drift Dive' features laid back brass and an array of synth instrumentation which helps settle the listener. The guitar riffs here are effective and sound dreamy, with Peter hitting the high notes in his falsetto voice. 

Undersea isn't an exciting EP. Slower melodies and far quieter instrumentation paves this dreamy landscape which just doesn't cut it for me. 'Endless Ladder' comes across slightly predictable. Don't get me wrong, the soundscapes are lovely. Peter's vocal couldn't be stronger and the synth work is unusual. Eight minutes of similarity without any real dynamic change or build-up can only go one way, the wrong way. The drumming becomes repetitive and the synth swooshes become common and un-authentic. It's a respectable track. I wouldn't want to endure hearing it live, and I'm sure it wouldn't top any 'must play' lists.

'Crest' adds a bit of tranquillity into the mix. Again, the soundscapes sound lovely with a stark bass driven drum beat in the background. Production seems to have taken a toll on The Antlers authentic lo-fi original sounds. The direction they've taken is far more slower and relaxing for the lo-fi/indie aesthetics. Crest comes across as a 'sexy' track in The Antlers catalogue. It's not quite so 'Rolled Together' from Burst Apart, it's further afield.

Peter Silbermann is in a happier place than three years ago, clearly. He now loves dolphins and the sea / water. The glistening dream pop swooshes fit the concept, however, will Hospice fans truly want to continue listening to this type of music. They might just be a band who release their best album first. 'Zelda' is more of the same instrumental seascapes. The brass adds a more complex sound with all the synth swooshes and the heavy bass. Two minutes of instrumentation is enough to prepare the listener for another Peter falsetto vocal. Although this isn't the strongest of tracks, it still has tranquillity. The passion is there, as is The Antlers desire to make new music. This EP won't stand the test of time. Crest and Drift Drive will be played live, and these are the two most enjoyable tracks on the EP. Too much water and not enough Antlers. Great vocal work yet again by Peter.


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