I'M LISTENING TO SILENTIST'S last EP, House on the Hill, as it rolls through bassy, slow-building, uneasy, dark rock that feels like pure creeping doom, but never seems to get there. It hints, it flirts, and then—grrughrrgghaa!—we're pulverized by hellish nightmare screams and keyboards that just feel wrong. A lot of this feels wrong—like something is going sickeningly bad behind the scenes, but it's wrong in all the best ways (for those of us who can handle the trip.) Here's what drummer/pianist/local guy Mark Evan Burden had to say about his amazing band.
MERCURY: What do you want Silentist to have done with itself by the end of 2007?
MARK EVAN BURDEN: We're working on 11 songs for a full-length record. Maybe when it's closer to being done we'll look into releasing it and touring here and overseas, but we're not time-lining ourselves with the writing and recording process. The first three EPs have been trial runs, so we're gonna be patient getting this one together.
Is it hard to be patient?
It's harder for me to have deadlines. It takes awhile to figure some of our stuff out and I put a lot of effort into framing the songs and developing musical and thematic concepts for our recordings and shows. Some end up working better than others. By trial runs, I mean that those EPs were a method of developing and discovering a musical language that we could work with that feels unique and valid to us. The stylistic qualities of the piano and drums and the arrangements of the music are things that I don't want to be easily tagged or boxed up with genre terminology. Certain songs call for more standard song structures, and I'm not against using those structures, just only when the conceptual nature of a song calls for it. So, those EPs helped us find our language, our method of expression, and this new group of songs will be a lot better for it. I didn't want to jump into trying to put together an hour's worth of songs before I felt like I had a better grasp of what I was trying to accomplish with them.
What do you want to accomplish with the new material?
Well, I guess on a simple level, we just want to be able to create a framework for a set of music that flows well and speaks for itself. Compared to the EPs, my goal is to limit genre-specific stylistic elements and work more within the musical languages we've been developing, and also to make the whole thing more tight and focused in its execution. On a more difficult-to-attain level, we just want to make something really pure and full of life, full of conflict and solitude, unique. But not unique in a technical sense—the fact that we use piano for a primarily harsh, attacking form of rock music is incidental, even the harshness is secondary, just a reflection of our experience and viewpoint in the world. What matters to me is my own personal truth to myself within my music, and that means making something with a life of its own, where the artist is as unimportant as every other element, and it also means that hopefully the end result will be extremely alien and jarring with equal parts beauty and repulsion, because that's how things are in reality.