Daniel Rossen – Silent Hour/Golden Mile EP Review
March 21, 2012
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Daniel Rossen aka vocalist of Grizzly Bear and the other half of Department of Eagles has just released his first solo EP, Silent Hour/Golden Mile. There is something distinct about Rossen’s arrangements and if you didn’t know that this was a solo EP you would be hard pressed to differentiate some of the tracks from Grizzly Bear. This is not surprising considering most of the material on the EP was originally destined for the upcoming Grizzly Bear album. However this isn’t just unfinished work, true it maybe a bit more raw but it is this vulnerability of Rossen away from his usual collaborators that makes this album so interesting. Silent Hour/ Golden Mile has that orchestral feel with layered textures which makes it so distinctive in addition to the penetrating guitar riffs and unpredictable chord structures which elevate Rossen to virtuoso status (a rare privilege amongst his contemporaries). Perhaps this is influenced by his jazz tuition whilst growing up; which lead to a brief dalliance with the notion of becoming a professional jazz musician. Rossen has moved on from his original inspiration of just imitating artists such as Nick Drake and Elliot Smith (brilliant artists in their own right) to creating some of the most innovative music which recently culminated in Grizzly Bear’s album Veckatimest which prompted some lofty comparisons between the group and The Beatles.
‘Silent Hour/Golden Mile’ follows Rossen’s development away from introspective, dark at times, emotional imagery that was seen in some of the earlier work of Department of Eagles to a more joyous vibe which is encapsulated in the latest Grizzly Bear tracks for example ‘Southern Point’. That is not to say that Silent Hour/ Golden Mile is merely a happy album – it is something much more complex. Granted there are only 5 tracks they are all quite brilliant in their own right but of special significance is the closing track ‘Golden Mile’ with its descending arpeggios and syncopated beat that merge like two streams into a river of blissful dissonance. Whereas the first track ‘Up on High’ announces some of the pent up emotions of Rossen with “But in this big/Empty room/I may feel free/To sing for me.” perhaps an indication of the typical stagnation that many artists endure after months of touring, especially after such a successful release such as Veckatimest. However my favourite track has to be ‘Saint Nothing’ which opens with a haunting ascetic piano and culminates into a beautiful resolution; it probably sounds a bit over the top but it results in a spiritual zen moment something that only happens when a record truly connects with you (and I’m sure most people have experienced something of this ilk).
This EP lends itself to multiple listens, after each listen the veil of simplicity that was littered with glinting highlights is eroded and what we find is a work that deserves to be appreciated to a much greater depth.
With attention away from this solo project, Grizzly Bear our now back into the recording studio developing their upcoming fourth album. Perhaps we will see them in Australia touring the new album? Nonetheless it has been confirmed that they will be touring Australia in 2012. I for one, am looking forward to it.
Silent Hour/Golden Mile is available for pre-order at local stores or you can import it from overseas which I did; pretty ridiculous how the distribution has worked out for this album.