Listen to 'Saint Nothing' below, the first teaser from the EP
Rossen recorded almost all of Silent Hour / Golden Mile himself in rehearsal rooms and small spaces across New York City. From the sighing strings and surging drums of opener "Up on High" to the tessellated guitars and resplendent one-man choir of "Return to Form," Rossen served largely as both imaginer and enactor. He did, however, enlist the help of Scott Hirsch's lap steel and horn arrangements from Ian Davis and Kris Nolte; the closing track's propulsive drums come courtesy of Dr. Dog's Eric Slick. Lifted by brass, the lulling piano lament of "Saint Nothing" is built largely from Rossen's first take of the song. That methodology offered a stark break with Grizzly Bear's more meticulous and piecemeal approach to songcraft.
"Whenever possible, I like just keeping the very first impression of an idea, the first take of something. You very rarely get to do that because the recording quality is below standard," says Rossen. "It's very liberating to just leave it."
Upon first sitting down to write these songs, Rossen had thought they might simply be demos for a new Grizzly Bear album or themes he'd soon forget. But late in 2011, these tunes started to feel for Rossen like a unified declaration—about unease with the world around you, about indeterminacy in your own life, and the ability somehow to navigate both. These five songs cut stiffly against compromise, delivering sometimes uneasy thoughts redeemed by strong-willed rock settings.
"When you spend so much time touring around, you can lose perspective on what you're trying to do. All the sudden, I had no idea what to do or what to make or anything," explains Rossen. "These songs were a way for me to figure that out again, getting my legs back."
Fittingly, the EP's title comes lifted from its closing track, "Golden Mile," a gem that eases its lyrical despair with walloping rhythms and gnawing guitars. "For a silent hour, for a golden mile," sings Rossen, pulling immediately from past difficulties to the infinite and unknowable future. "There's bliss in this mess. There's madness all around."
"Saint Nothing," the plaintive, piano-based heartbreaker... We cannot emphasize the word "plaintive" enough — there's simply no way to teach someone to communicate sadness the way Rossen can." SPIN
Daniel Rossen - Silent Hour / Golden Mile
WAP332 - CD, Vinyl & Download - released March 19/20
1 - Up On High
2 - Silent Song
3 - Return To Form
4 - Saint Nothing (listen above)
5 - Golden Mile
Mixed by Nicolas Vernhes at New York's Rare Book Room.
Bio credit - Grayson Currin
Photo and artwork by Amelia Bauer