Cody Yantis creates a series of intimate vignettes on Physical Silence, each a sonic still life for a moment of inquisition and contemplation. Using a diverse palette, there’s an elegance throughout that becomes part of the space we’re in, etching itself into walls and wafting in the air like a familiar, comforting perfume. Taking its titles from phrases in The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa, Physical Silence faces inward, keeping the world outside at a distance even if the windows are all wide open.
Yantis is an underappreciated guitarist. He doesn’t make guitar records, per se, but his playing on Physical Silence creates the album’s solid backbone. Songs like “Invisible Damage” and “Distant Ellipses” are built around simple, effective progressions that lend themselves to accouterments like piano and banjo. The latter is playful, the distance in the past adding a soft glow around the picked strings. Emotional languidness gives way to a wry smile, a remembrance of a brighter day. Whiplashed back to the cold light of day, “Merely A Matter Of Changing” follows that luminescence with the harsh realities of self-reflection stored away in our memory banks, flowing through funereal organ chords.
Stilted shapes fade in from shadow in the slow-moving paces of the short, sweet “An Archaeology Of The Present.” Warmth resonates outward from Yantis’s gentle guitar saunters. A light comes on in an adjacent room, woodwinds and banjo mixing with a honeyed cleverness; a reminder we’re not alone in here. That spirit winds away across Physical Silence in the bowed drones of “Pure Direct Memory;” beneath the ghostly hollows of “A Crass and Grievous Error.”
Yantis, while reflecting on within, creates connections on the outside. Physical Silence is inquisitive and steady even while weighed down by a constant stream of doubt. Listening to these aural expressions, I find myself coming back to something Pessoa said, “We never know self-realization. We are two abysses – a well staring at the sky.” Physical Silence looks headlong into that wide open, aquamarine void and finds a certain solace in its endless expanse and in the unanswerable questions. It’s fleeting, but we’ve all felt it and that’s where contact begins.
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