Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Patrick Stolley
For very good reasons, we're told not to look directly into the sun's glare. We're told to avert our eyes from solar eclipses, as if that could be any worse than looking straight into the sun - though we were taught that it could be deadly poison, as if Medusa herself was just waiting up there to sic her vipers on us and turn us into cement for our curiosity. It's not a bad idea - no matter the grave circumstances - to take a chance of seeing something up there amongst that burning ball of fire. If we could just get past the painful guard dog of that bright light, to break through and into that other part of space, where the galaxy is more made of a swooning sense of chill and awe, that's when we can still feel like insignificant ants, but we could be doing it in a dizzier manner. We could be up there, cuddling with the bigger expanse, pretending it's the better place that we've always imagined - or at least strained to believe - that our friends and family embark to once they've passed away.
Once past all of the golden spikes and the outer crust of the bigger sky is when a certain comfort would probably take over, when there's more of an opportunity to reflect upon all of the big stuff that got sweated and all of the small stuff that should have carried more admiration and reverence. We'd be able to put all of the jagged pieces together, into the jagged spots where they belong, making something altogether complete and rewarding - a meeting ground for all of the disparate tastes and tempras, all in one place at the same time for the first time. The Silent Years have been this lofty in the upper territory, getting up to that domed ceiling where all of the bad stuff floats to, but also where all of the good is said to reside at the completion of whatever it is we're supposed to be doing.
The Detroit band, and especially lead singer Josh Epstein with his lyrics made of aspiring, however dastardly bent halos, gives to us this panoramic scene that doesn't include a horizon or a cart path, just endlessly open arms and room enough to breathe big and deep, taking in the kinds of sucking gasps that grizzly bears do when they're winded or yawning. The band allows us to feel how old and how novel we can be at any given time - suspended in the kind of feeling that makes inevitability more of a choice than a warrant. It makes us feel how brittle our bones really are. It makes us feel how smooth and unwrinkled our skin is - how many good years we might still have in this old body. It makes us feel as if we could go back before the Wright brothers and without knowing exactly what we were doing, invent some sort of magical flight that would take the world by storm. It would more involve a hammock and a loss of gravity, but it would feel like flying - or like a daydreamer going through some sleeplessness.
The music is like getting a close up, private look at the Milky Way, getting to run our hands through it and actually feeling the particles of light and rock. It's getting to linger in these intangible forms of extreme confidence and worship to all of the things we can't explain. Epstein is burying all of his photo albums in "On Our Way Home" and what would be great to know is, "What's to come of them?" Will there be something even more everlasting sprouting from that planting, given the right growing conditions and the proper amount of rainfall? Does it mean that it's only necessary to bother oneself with what you can always carry with you? The Silent Years haven't a difficulty in turning the simplest moments into sophisticated beauty that will vex us into a haunting scripture of our own handwriting.