There is a suggestion – possibly a theory although I’ve not heard it given a name – that music waits for the right moment to arrive. Sometimes, inspiration is instant and the song flows into the ether from… wherever it was before. Sometimes, though, the music has a much longer gestation; there are times when it needs to be poked, prodded and gradually dragged out into the world. This is quite often referred to as the ‘craft’ element of songwriting and composition and can sometimes take years before all the elements fall into place.
So it is, that When I’m Gone was begun in 2005 and is only seeing the light of day now. It’s not as if the members of Silencio aren’t creative and prolific – indeed, the leader of the group Julien Demoulin has already had a release covered in these pages this year. However, dragging all the elements of this particular record into place so that everything is just right clearly took time. Perhaps this is the ‘1% inspiration, 99% perspiration’ that artists mention from time to time, and it is to everybody’s credit that the music here sounds effortless; there’s no indication of layers and layers of sound being added over the years, or of songs being over-worked beyond all recognition.
The spare violins and electronics of “The Easy Way Out” is a case in point; the backing is near elemental at times (thunder rolls, the synths seem to breathe in and out), but it’s not oppressive; there’s a mere suggestion of layers of sounds carefully woven together but the result is airy, blessed with a lightness of touch that draws the listener deeper and deeper in. Such is the tranquil nature of much of the music here, it’s a surprise to hear drums and trumpet kick in on “Taking Time”, a track that sounds as if it were dropped in from a post-rock project rather than Silencio. It’s a strong track, though, and is sequenced well in the running order, providing an extra lift when the album threatens to become too introspective.
If you have been twiddling your thumbs, sitting around waiting patiently for a new Labradford album, then When I’m Gone should really hit the spot as it occupies a similar language of sound to the Richmond trio; spare, graceful music where every note matters. It’s not quite ambient, for all of the minimal arrangements there is always something to hold the attention rather than allowing the listener to just drift away and it’s clear, even without knowing the recording process, that a lot of thought and time went into this work. After seven years, it’s certainly been worth the wait. (Jeremy Bye)