By Ian GormelyBrooklyn's, NY the Antlers have already achieved a great deal of critical success. Those that were able to get their hands on the self-released version of Hospice in March drooled all over it. Now, French Kiss is giving the album a wide release, allowing the rest of us to see what all the hype was about. It's an exhausting record, one that takes a few tracks to get going. It details the intimate and harrowing story of watching a loved one die in Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre in New York. Opening track "Prologue" begins with the sounds of a breathing apparatus and heart monitor before transitioning into a sweeping soundscape. From there, the record slowly builds on itself, sucking you in deeper with each new track. Hospice certainly shares its aural palette with plenty other bands working today - Sigur Rós's slow building crashes of sound immediately come to mind. But the intimate emotions conveyed are equalled only by Arcade Fire's Funeral, which was more a celebration of life. Vocalist/lyricist Peter Silberman, on whose experiences Hospice is based, instead forces us to confront mortality head on as he details the slow and painful slide to the end.
Did you write these songs on your own or were they written with the full band? Silberman: The process of writing was through recording it, so a lot of it was sort of shapeless for a while and I was just layering a lot of sound. Meanwhile, I was writing a lot of lyrics but not exactly sure where they would be placed in the ocean of sound. As far as the recording and that end of the writing, we were all working on that together but the songwriting itself, the lyrics and cinematic material, I guess, was on my end.
Are these lyrics based on personal experience? Yes, to a certain degree they are. I tend to not go into a lot of detail where things came from but it's definitely autobiographical, in a sense.
I read that you purposely shut yourself off in order to write this record but that was contradicted elsewhere. Under what conditions did you write Hospice? The timeline's a little weird and a little bit confusing. Basically I moved to Manhattan in 2006 and sort of as a result of the events unfolding in Hospice, and being in a new city, I was just very shut off from people for about a year-and-a-half. After that period of time, when things kind of came to a close, I moved to Brooklyn and kind of started a new life there. I kind of came out of that and started working on this record. (Frenchkiss)