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The Antlers’ Hospice

December 12, 2009

In all seriousness, I visited this place once and I tried not to do it again.  But this album is too beautiful, too real, too haunting to ignore.  It is powerful music where the power is not in notes but in the spaces between notes.  It has become its own urban legend.  It’s the story of someone who watches his lover die in the hospital.  It’s the story of a nurse in a cancer ward who falls in love with his patient.  It’s autobiographical.  It’s not.  It’s personal.  It’s none of our damn business.

In the end, the desire to figure this thing out gets in the way of this simple fact:  The Antlers’ Hospice is an amazing work of art.  Throw away the flattering reviews, forget the top albums of the year lists.  Just listen to this album.  Don’t do anything else while you’re listening except maybe read along with the lyrics.  Turn off your phone, don’t answer the door.  Listen intently, like it matters.  Oh, and make sure you’ve got a box of tissue handy.

To this day, band founder and lead singer Peter Silberman hesitates to discuss the origins of these songs.  He confirms that they all fit together loosely into a narrative inspired by personal events from his life.  The music begins in hushed, muted tones.  Within the softness, though, there is something grand.  But rather than hit you in the head with the scope of the music, Silberman forces the grandness into empty space, creating something that feels strangely personal.  As you listen, you believe that these stories are your stories and these emotions are your emotions.  You are within a world inhabited by strangers, but the world is familiar nonetheless.

I’m listening to Hospice while I write and I realize that these words don’t do it justice.  I am blaspheming against the pure emotion that brought it to life.  I don’t want to do that.  I just want to share with you my belief that music can be all things in life and the music on this album can be, and is, transcendent.  If there’s anything inside of you that desires to experience something truly sublime, go get Hospice and allow it to wash over you.  Revel in the feelings that it inspires in you, then go back to your life.  I promise you that your life will be different after listening.  Not in a mega, “finding religion” sort of way, but because the next time you feel heartache, or pain, or loss you’ll recall this music and it will soothe you.  It will become a familiar friend that you turn to when times get hard.  In the end, it will be more than songs you like to hear, it will become a soundtrack to your most cherished moments.  And that, more than anything, is why Hospice is worthy of all the praise.

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