Release Date: Mar 20, 2012
Record label: Warp
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock
Daniel RossenSilent Hour / Golden Mile EP[Warp; 2012]By Andrew Halverson; March 22, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetDaniel Rossen - Silent Song by Redeye DistributionSince November 2010, the end of Grizzly Bear's touring round for Veckatimest, Daniel Rossen's major contributions to music were put on a minor creative hold, which is fair considering how dense of an effort Veckatimest ended up being. That album contained a certain grandiosity that was always gleaming through, especially on songs like "I Live With You. " It was an event that channeled the ambitions of each member, where everyone was shooting miles high on instrumental and lyrical levels.
The context for Silent Hour/Golden Mile – a five-song solo effort from Grizzly Bear’s Daniel Rossen and something to hold us over till the band’s next full-length, expected this year – is, more than anything, heavy. In the vacuum following the wild success of Veckatimest, the 2009 album that elevated Grizzly Bear into the limelight, Rossen found himself in a deep creative crisis: "I wasn't really sure what I was doing, and if I really even wanted to make music anymore,” he said. It’s hard to imagine Rossen, whose presence as vocalist and songwriter has been so integral to Grizzly Bear’s cerebral, intricate sound, feeling so adrift.
There is something almost topographical about Daniel Rossen's music. It has the overwhelming grandeur of something viewed from above-- perhaps from the top of a tall tree or an airplane or very possibly, if you're into that sort of thing, heaven-- but also the painstaking, labyrinthine detail of a map. His first solo EP, Silent Hour/Golden Mile, is a brief but majestic song cycle full of fingerpicked notes that babble like tributaries, echoing piano chords that cut through silence like rocks rippling the surface of a pond, and in a few cases, explosive mountains of sound that jut up out of nowhere.
When Marcus Mumford lies in bed late at night, Vicks VapoRub smeared across his chest, and listens to the music of [a]Grizzly Bear[/a], he must quietly weep. For a few years now, the Brooklyn chamber-folk outfit have summoned up grand vistas of the pastoral sublime, while the Mumfords et al make do with taking the funicular, all kitchen-sink arrangements and pasty-lad emoting. Well, look away now Marcus, because the new EP from Grizzly Bear’s [a]Daniel Rossen[/a] is a truly grandiose effort.
"If I had a chance to see the friends I've loved and lost/And beg for their return," an insidious line from the orchestrated waltz splendor "Silent Song," is the key motif to unlocking DanielRossen's knockout punch of an EP Silent Hour / Golden Mile. The record seemed to emerge out of nowhere, stemming from Rossen's desire to stave off ennui and hone his chops whilein the midst of a break from his main band Grizzly Bear's upcoming LP. "Silent Song" is like a bridge to 2009's Grizzly Bear album Veckatimest, where a similar aesthetic of love and losspervaded.
Grizzly Bear’s Daniel Rossen has said that for a long time, he only played his music for friends and that it took him years to become comfortable with his voice and performing. Grizzly Bear’s widely acclaimed 2008 release, Veckatimest, made it quite apparent that the Brooklyn-based 29-year-old has grown into a talented singer, songwriter, and guitarist dedicated to the complex craftsmanship that goes into making a record. Attention to detail and triumphant melodies sit at the top of the band’s strong suits, and Rossen’s first solo release, Silent Hour/Golden Mile, holds onto those traits.
Though Daniel Rossen's wavering voice and winding melodies are hallmarks of his work with Grizzly Bear and Department of Eagles, Silent Hour/Golden Mile bears his own name for a reason. At one point these songs were intended for a follow-up to Grizzly Bear's masterful Veckatimest, but Rossen ended up recording them largely by himself in a style that's tasteful but not showy -- and that's a good thing. In both of his other projects, he's surrounded by collaborators who are so musicianly that his songs sometimes threaten to get lost in their elaborate surroundings.
There are certain things in life that as much as I may always enjoy them, I’d never list them amongst my favourites: Italian food, Australian wine, a Sachin Tendulkar innings, Scorcese... and, I guess, the music of Daniel Rossen, who has spent the past 11 or so years in New York as part of both Grizzly Bear and Department of Eagles. The West Coast that Rossen grew up on has always tended to colour his bands’ hugely acclaimed - yet oddly low on mainstream success - pop sound with an enhanced feeling of warmth, and the same is true of his debut solo EP Silent Hour/Golden Mile.
The propensity for a band’s members to dabble in their own individual side projects seems directly proportional to the critical and popular acclaim of the group itself. Take Grizzly Bear, for example: As the Brooklyn indie rockers’ clout has swelled, so too have its members been inevitably drawn to separate ventures, including vocalist Daniel Rossen’s much-admired partnership with Fred Nicolaus as Department of Eagles, and more recently bassist Chris Taylor’s successful electro-rock collab with Twin Shadow as CANT. Four years removed from the ascendancy of Veckatimest, Rossen has also struck out on his own, releasing a quiet, somewhat under-hyped EP sprouted from a collection of unfinished Grizzly Bear material.
Throughout their career, Grizzly Bear has always ensured a sound that is both aesthetically ominous and darkly atmospheric. In many ways, their Yellow House album was as much about the spectrum of sound they explored, as it was about honest, sincere songwriting. Before and after that album it’s always been a superb spectral sound behind their music.
For a while, it seemed like Silent Hour/Golden Mile would never seen the light of day. Daniel Rossen, of Grizzly Bear and Department Of Eagles, spent his post-Veckatimest days in a creative funk, isolating himself and contemplating if he even wanted to make music anymore. But he did find his way back in time and pushed himself to finish his solo debut.
This is the first solo release by Daniel Rossen, and an experiment in immediacy. Here, the compact indie-rock powerhouse seeks to break from Grizzly Bear’s careful production and hurl his songs onto record like buckets of paint at a wall. Silent Hour/Golden Mile builds on first takes, non-studio recordings and DIY choirs, with only the choicest post-hoc additions: an understated blur of horns on ‘St Nothing’, the salty clap and spray of Eric Slick’s drums on ‘Golden Mile’, et minimal cetera.
When Daniel Rossen became a member of Grizzly Bear, before the recording of Yellow House, the Brooklyn, NY psych-folkers' sound gained a great deal of weight, intimacy and romantic valour. The L.A.-bred vocalist/guitarist strays little from his Grizzly Bear/Department of Eagles M.O. with Silent Hour/Golden Mile, his debut solo release. A modest five-song EP, from its pared-down arrangements to its monochromatic album cover, Silent Hour/Golden Mile is a surprisingly cohesive release that begs for repeat spins.