For this edition of Under The Influence, Antlers’ Peter Silberman makes us a playlist of songs that inspired his band’s latest album Burst Apart. Scroll down to listen and read explanations of why he selected each song.
I try to listen to as much music as possible as often as I can. In the 5 or so months we spent recording Burst Apart, I revisited some records I’ve loved for years and discovered a huge mess of new ones. I dove into Motown and the whole Warp Records back-catalog, old 4AD stuff and early psych music. During those months, I found and listened to so much music that it’s hard to pick out just a handful of tracks. But these are some of the songs I can attach to specific moments in writing and figuring out our record, standouts that made a specific difference.
1. Boards Of Canada – “Satellite Anthem Icarus”
For years this song’s been my go-to for getting stoned and lying on the floor. I listen to Boards of Canada pretty much all the time, it’s just always on the the background. This one, if you listen closely, has a ton of things happening in the background. This song was a bit of a guide for “Rolled Together.”
2. Portishead – “Biscuit”
My first ideas for the sound of Burst Apart came through rediscovering Dummy and listening to it closely and very loud. I started hearing all the individual parts and how it pieced together, which ended up being pretty key in us putting together “Parentheses,” mostly from short samples of us playing aimlessly, about a year before actually digging in to record.
3. Air – “Run”
Pretty sure this is one of my favorite songs ever, and I think it defies explanation. But if it’s ever gonna work for you, it’s gonna happen at 3:12.
4. Balam Acab – “Big Boy”
This song’s just beautiful. We were hitting a wall with “No Widows,” and this helped us find the right sound for the track. We heard this and knew the song had to feel light.
5. Cocteau Twins – “Evangeline”
I love the dizzy, druggy slowdance happening in this song, and definitely had it in mind when we were working on “Hounds.” I think you could also make the case that I ripped-off the chorus vocal line of “Evangeline” in the verses of “No Widows”, but let’s not point fingers. It was an accident. Sorry. I love you, Elizabeth Fraser. I didn’t mean to steal from you. Moving along…
6. OMD – “The Romance Of The Telescope”
Sharon Van Etten showed me this song a bunch of years ago (when I was recording Hospice, actually), and I didn’t really get into it until we started on Burst Apart. This song feels like a not-so-distant male relative of the Cocteau Twins song I was just talking about. It’s powerful, probably in part because it’s so simple and spare (even though it sounds massive). There’s space and soft darkness.
7. Air – “Kelly Watch The Stars”
I’ve been listening to Moon Safari for so much of my life that it was only a matter of time before it left its mark on an Antlers record. I don’t know if it’s this song in particular or if it’s just everything on that album, but Burst Apart is definitely indebted to Air. The descending line at 2:31 is when you stop zoning out and pay attention for a second before zoning out again.
8. The Beatles – “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”
I go in and out of Beatles phases but I hit a pretty heavy one when we were recording. I was getting back into playing guitar like a guitar player, going beyond soundscapes and back to the way I played when I was first learning as a kid. The guitars on “Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out” were written with this song in mind. I got really into George Harrison on the later Beatles stuff after finding a guitar made entirely of Rosewood, a 1980 reissue of his Let It Be guitar (you see him playing it on the roof in the movie). The original guitar has a pretty interesting history involving Ed Begley Jr., who bid on it on behalf of George’s wife, to keep it in the estate after he died. My reissue of that guitar has a less interesting story, but it’s a fucking awesome guitar nonetheless.
9. Radiohead – “Airbag”
It’s a funny thing with Radiohead. I know for certain that they are my favorite band, that I have absolutely listened to them more than anything else in my life, that I truly believe they are & were the best band in existence. I also know that, for whatever reasons, me saying that provokes some inevitable eye-rolling by readers. Maybe it’s because they’ve spawned so many bland imitators. Maybe people think Radiohead takes itself too seriously. There are a thousand reasons to be cynical about them if you really want to be, or to be cynical about a band they’ve influenced. Ultimately, I just sort of feel sorry for anyone who hears “Airbag” and can’t love it. For better or worse, there would be no Burst Apart without it.
10. Beach House – “Take Care”
Like pretty much everyone last year, I was totally in love with Teen Dream and listened to it often. At a time when I was really tired of being constantly gone and away from people I cared about, this record convinced me I’d get back soon. There were times during the making of Burst Apart that I looked to Teen Dream as a jumping-off point for what I was wanted to write about. It surprises me that this record even exists, at a time when it seems like most music from the past few years has been so devoid of emotion and vulnerability. We should consider ourselves lucky to be so affected by music. Why avoid that?
Watch the band’s own video for “Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out,” and grab the MP3, below.
Burst Apart is out now Frenchkiss.