The Silence Industry
Brother Sing, Sister Shout
Enough Records, 2014
Review by Kent Manthie
Starting in 2007, Canadian rocker Graham J started up The Silence Industry. It’s a bit more than a one-man band, however. While Graham is the frontman, the one pillar around which others rotate – a revolving door of sorts, of musicians that show up on different recordings they’ve made in the nearly seven years The Silence Industry have been going at it. Their new CD, Brother Sing, Sister Shout is a seven-song melange of not-quite-goth, steady rock that reminded me a little of some 80s underground-ish bands such as The Cult, sans the shrill voice of Ian Astbury, or a less torpid Sisters of Mercy crossed with Christian Death, but with the nihilism turned down a couple notches.
According to Graham, it is not their intention to fit into any particular genre and he eschews labels that pigeonhole the band’s sound, which limits the reach they are capable of due to expectations that, when crossed or unmet, can break one’s fanbase. Instead, The Silence Industry are keen observers of the (music) world around them, which helps them steer clear of certain paths to ignominy.
Some of their recent albums include 2011’s Permanent Crisis, 2010’s The Teeth of Tomorrow and The Edge of Illusion which came out in 2009. The appeal on all their work is exactly the anti-genre stance they take toward their work, which keeps their fans in suspense, always eager to see what the next album brings. Now, of course, they aren’t completely without some sort of boundaries or a stability of their nature: you won’t hear a jazz record one year and the next a dance record, a la House music, with DJs and the like. But if they feel like toning down the goth and bringing in a mysteriousness one or jumping between a subset of flavors that is what they do.
On Brother Sing, Sister Shout they take us back to Manchester, circa 1984: goth with a bullet. It took a couple listens, but I got it eventually. On the first track, “Brother Sing, Sister Shout (We Shout Together)” Graham and co. set the scene: a beat-heavy blackness with an outer space ethereality that doesn’t hurry. One of the aspects that is a plus is the lengthy fermentation of each song. The average time being about 7 minutes, where one song may be 6 ½ minutes, another 8 minutes or 7:50, etc. The shortest tune on here is actually listed as a “bonus track”, the 4:00 “Beneath a Sinking Sky”. Bonus or not, it still is the right note on which to fade out.
This is definitely a case of the more you listen the more you pick up and appreciate. Too often, there are albums that have certain hooks and catchy riffs that pique one’s interest at first, but after too much repetition, will lose their appeal. With The Silence Industry, the fact that they aren’t stuck in a particular box in the first place, thus giving them plenty of room with which to experiment, the repeated listening of this, the latest album, Brother Sing, Sister Shout, brings up more and more enjoyability. The aforementioned title track as well as the following cut, “Your Skin, Celestial”, “Against the Gods” and “Breakin’ the Law of Value” all have a pull, a kind of tonal gravity that keeps getting stronger until you get caught in its orbit. That and the already described prolonged space of each tune exercise one’s imagination and the unfilled spaces eventually are colored in. There is a great bass streak through here that anchors nicely the atmosphere through which they go, such as on “Against the Gods”.
I’m not sure how closely this lineup of musicians goes with the new album, but The Silence Industry, in the past, has consisted of the guitar work of both Graham J and one called Laura; Hyuma does “some bass” (which leads me to believe that it’s Graham J, the leader, who fills in his own gaps by adding his talents where necessary). Then there is also Josh, who is, likewise, accorded the tag “some…” by pointing out he adds “some noise and synths”. Reading into this, it tells me that Graham J is in full control of his band and it really is his own direction that the band takes, but I’d imagine suggestions are welcome.
In the end, it really is a blissful album. A nod to the goth pioneers of earlier times with a hint of rock to it, but never in an “over-Americanized” rock. When I think of “Behind Plastic Eyes” I remember how it mesmerizes and emits warm jets of an alien atmosphere through its lovely bass-anchored, beat-heavy, slowed down, emotive peal. “We are the Final Crisis (a Remembrance)” is a song that, possibly, was meant as the real finale to Brother Sing, Sister Shout, if “Beneath a Sinking Sky” is indeed a bonus track that somehow made it onto the copy which I received. Whatever is the case, I do think that the latter is and should be the real closing track, since it has a difference from what came before, by being more sparse, a tad melancholy and shorter: only (as I wrote) four minutes, which would be the way to take one out and snap the fingers to end the trance. -KM.
The Silence Industry