Daniel Rossen builds a world of craggy cliffs and lapping seas, calling sirens and fireside revelations. He sings a whole world into being in five tracks; a starlit world full of shrines, deserts to traipse and promises to fulfill. Listening to this record feels a bit like reading a novel that begins right in the middle or a fantastic, sparse short story.
The symphonic strains of “Return To Form” or the hearthside confessional of “Up On High” delight both the ears and the imagination in a cacophony of tales told in sound. There are elements of cowboy, the west and the old open range in “Up On High” that aren’t country by any means, it just sounds wild and free, not quite untamable. The dreamscapes are astonishing.
Grizzly Bear efforts are well known for telling entire novels within the walls of sound they deliver, but this effect is even more deeply felt on the Rossen EP. “Silent Song” sounds again and again like a salty, sea-washed journey, the music building up and slapping back into calm. Caressing the sides of the track are fuzzed out guitars and rocking the boat itself is Rossen’s crooning, desperate vocal. He is the siren, negating the silence, we are the transfixed, as he builds his own performance into the meaning of this track.
“Saint Nothing” carries us to a ruined cathedral of belief, a wild goose chase after a long venerated sage. Calming and uprooting, this song sacrifices religion but affirms spirituality. Its delicate, deep horns and haunting monk-like chants divide and rejoin in the searching anthem of a lost pilgrim deeply embedded in a rich piano backdrop. It could be a plaintiff cry in a private prayer cell or an address to an ancient icon and either way it brings the listener metaphysically to their knees.
To follow this up then, with the riotous title track “Golden Mile” both finishes the journey and starts it all over again. Feeding back into itself like a chant, a prayer, a perfectly formed plot, this song is both the climax and the resolution of an exquisitely balanced and finely told story. A tapestry of intrigue, mystery and longing, the lullabyes told in this EP will haunt and howl through your mind ceaselessly. Desiring but never demanding, extracting emotion but providing soothing relief in mesmerizing musings, this tiny record listens like a truly timeless folk tale. This tiny record restores the glory to the genre of folk, restores the role of journeyman to the listener. Upending the metaphysical order, resounding the spiritual questions of all generations, Rossen poses challenges to the Great Chain of Being in the vein of poets of old. The result is by no means heretical, in fact, this sounds like the kind of music God would listen to on his own heavenly turntable.
Mermaids appear, Prophets are questioned, monuments admired. Rossen is the unsung hero of a classical journey, building his quest out in sounds of horns, strings, piano and his own fragile falsetto. This is a journey that doesn’t end but loops through leaving the listener in constant flux, always with the desire to listen again and look for missed clues or signs to what the final destination might yield. But there is no final resting point, the destination is the journey on this record, as each silent hour tilts into another golden mile.
Purchase Silent Hour/Golden Mile via Warp