Trade my pessimism for awe.
Last year, myself and a couple of mates flew up to Shanghai to catch Silent Planet on their China tour. Arriving at the livehouse, we immediately went upstairs to say ‘hi’ and complete fan expectations, browsed through the merch that wouldn’t fit any of our sedentary asses, praised the promoter for bringing them over, and sweated profusely with our Chinese counterparts as the band survived the humidity and lack of air filtration. The beers were overpriced, the crowd placid but absorbed, the night potent. I cannot speak for fans in the states who have the luxury of catching them at a greater frequency, but for us grafting in the far-east, it was something truly special; a humble event to break us, if for a moment, from the pollution and KTV, noise-laced streets. Afterwards, we fan-boishly took the band out for street barbecue and chewed their ears off about anything and everything. Where we’re from, this luxury is not common for simple music lovers, but such elevation behind momentarily hanging out with some dudes is not an appropriate statement, for a band like them. They were ordinary guys, eating questionable street food in 200% humidity with people who love their music.
Admittedly, this recollection is a tad far in the past when now “analyzing” Everything Was Sound, but it is necessary to note the experience of fan boy deconstruction that went down; how it made approaching the latest outing more personal. Putting a collection of faces and personalities to a live performance that small and intimate, post-Youtube ogling, makes the music a focus rather than a run through the motions of grinning in front of a computer monitor, streaming ablazed. Silent Planet are that band which subverts mysticism, bends the expectations, and includes you in the listening experience; just as they had included us in their experience of Shanghai, pre, post, and during the show.
If you haven’t touched on the group’s music, you will find genre traits close to many progressive-metalcore outfits, but with definitive identity. Triplet jumps, dark minor atmosphere, and poetic vocals all careful placed together to mold story-craft music. Everything Was Sound is true to concept, with mental turmoil a serious draw in the instrumental work. Be it Will Putney’s production governance that makes the album stronger and brighter than that of The Night God Slept, or Garrett Russell’s dominance behind the mic, this outing ‘is’ the thematic cohesion wanted out of the previous outing, boxed together in a powerful vision. Even when holding the lyrics booklet, browsing through philosophical and band references, Russell captures your attention with genuine agony and expressive opinion. There is no pastiche, no reuse of ideas – just point blank admittance and defeat. Take this with Alex Camarena’s authentic drum imagination and Miitches Starks’s the stellar yet toned down guitar work, sacrificing technicality in saving atmosphere, you’d be certainly mistaken if you believe this to be merely an emotionally edgy music experience.
Back in Shanghai, bassist Thomas Freckleton told me about many alternative music fans putting titles on musicians and their craft, especially with regards to vocal positions and styles. He said that the definitions created for screamers and singers, marked by clean and unclean, distracts the role of such individuals in the listening experience. And while I’m still trying to forgive the almost forced chorus of “Orphan”, I cannot help but be thankful for this statement, as when approaching the album from a vocal standpoint, there was no change in temperature when he and Russell exchanged emotions. The singing contrasts less which can be heard in Freckleton’s agony and interventions. Specifically, Spencer Chamberlain’s appearance in “Psychescape” would not have driven so hard if Freckleton’s compliment to the song had not been as well-placed and powerful as it was.
The message and overall presence of Silent Planet is overwhelming. I’ll openly admit that I gawk and keyboard smash my way through eye-candied outfits in a certain confidence that I am, some how, included as an elevated fan in a musician’s journey through music and art. Silent Planet makes me uncomfortable. I now feel mislead, my limited empathy drained in misguided support of filthy, dire attempts at our hearts strings and observance. Silent Planet remain on the cold earth with the rest of us. So yeah, I feel guilty for my cynicism. And instead of a sort of punishment for shooting the messenger, I am passionately included in the journey that is Silent Planet’s music. If that is the future attitude and presentation of music, I’ll trade my pessimism for awe.