Silence

DISCOGRAPHY | ALBUMS

 

Musical Accompaniment for the End of the World

The Pekinpah Association, 2012

Musical Accompaniment for the End of the World is the musical equivalent of enjoying a glass of Laphroaig whiskey while observing a rapidly approaching storm through the window. It is soothing ... despite the unshakeable sensation of impending doom.

Silence's first regular album since Vain A Tribute to a Ghost (2004) was released on April 14 2012. The release date was selected on account of its exquisite catastrophic pedigree; preceded by Friday the 13th, it marks the centennial of the sinking of the Titanic.

Due to its minimalistic concept (summarized in the album's subtitle, Songs for two pianos, tactful synths, and voice), Musical Accompaniment appears to pick up where Vain's closing track, Runalong Acoustic Version, left off. The album features ten songs performed by two remarkable pianists, Igor Vićentić (with whom Silence first collaborated on The Passion of the Cold) and Sašo Vollmaier. The pianos were recorded at the Vatroslav Lisinski Concert Hall in Zagreb. The vocals and synthesizers were recorded in Silence's private production facility, the Daily Girl studio.

Silence's engagement in theatre – especially the prolific collaboration with director Tomaž Pandur – has had a prominent role in shaping the album's sound. It has prompted the duet's decision to discard drums and bass in favor of an intimate, predominantly acoustic sound. It has also nudged the piano arrangements toward a more classical feel.

The album's title and cinematic atmosphere, however, stem from Silence's infatuation with movies. Musical Accompaniment pays tribute to the work of Hladnik's late father, renowned director Boštjan Hladnik. Sequences from Hladnik's films Fable of Love (1954), Masquerade (1971), and Dancing in the Rain (1961) were reissued as videos for three songs from the album; Death is New York, Heart of Darkness and Electricity. Even though they're divided by decades, the footage and the music fuse seamlessly, yielding an extraordinary father/son collaboration.

Additional information

The album is available on Bandcamp

 

Vain – A Tribute to a Ghost

Matrix Music and Chrom Records, 2004

With their fourth studio album, Silence became part of the legend surrounding Matej Smolnik a.k.a. Vain, a promising young artist whose sudden death in 1998 – a death that remains shrouded in mystery – unveiled a unique musical legacy, as well as an assorted collection of prose and drawings.

The connection between Vain and Silence is apparent and yet difficult to pinpoint. They share many things: bits and pieces of their past, certain aspects of their personalities and, most importantly, their work. It is impossible to draw a clear line between Vain and Silence, as it is impossible to distinguish between myth and reality.

The music, a combination of electronic beats and acoustic elements – ranging from classical string arrangements to exotic instruments (santur, koto, valiha ...) – is where Vain and Silence are one: uncompromising and undeterred by the stifling demands of the music business. As Vain wrote in his diary: The trouble with music is that it often deals with listeners.

The album is available on Bandcamp

 

Unlike a Virgin

Chrom Records, 1999

The duet's second album was a radical departure from the amiable electro-pop of Ma non troppo. This intense, unruly, tumultuous record – laden with distorted synthesizers, digital noise, and electric guitars – is Silence's grittiest, angriest work to date.

The making of the album introduced considerable changes to Silence's usual methodology. Normally, the duet avoids venturing into the studio before wrapping up the songwriting process. In this case, however, Silence entered the studio with nothing more than sketches. The latter were then gradually moulded into fully-fledged songs. The duet was thus able to merge the songwriting and production processes and achieve a greater amount of spontaneity.

Unlike a Virgin revealed Silence's proclivity for experimentation. It also introduced one of Silence's key traits: the duet's knack for eluding straightforward categorisations.

The title of the album, an allusion to Madonna's 1984 album and single, was concocted by Benko's father, Bogdan. The latter is also responsible for the title of the duet's debut. After listening to Ma non troppo for the first time, he remarked: Silence ... ma non troppo (Silence ... but not too much).

The album is available on Bandcamp

 

Ma non troppo

Chrom Records, 1997

With their debut album, Silence paid homage to the music of their youth. This was not a conscious decision, though. As such, it resulted in a remarkably candid, guileless album. Ma non troppo is a love letter to one's idols, written with a lover's fervor ... and blindness.

The album blends the synthesizer galore and unbridled melodiousness of the 80's with beats typical of the 90's. It includes a surprising cover of Elvis Presley's slightly overlooked classic, The Girl of My Best Friend. Silence's version first appeared in Elvis de Luxe (1997), an outlandish play produced by the Grapefruit Theatre. Another prominent track is Kraljestvo mačjih oči, the only song on the album in the duet's mother tongue. The record also features a hidden track, #1 Hit Single. This innocuous, jocose song was actually a source of considerable distress for Chrom Records. The label was convinced the song's euphoric lambasting of the media would alienate the press. Drastic preemptive measures were implemented; the song was placed five minutes after the album's penultimate track, I'm a Memory, and removed from the booklet.

Ma non troppo marks the beginning of Silence's long-lasting and remarkably prolific collaboration with producer Peter Penko.

The album is available on Bandcamp

ANTHOLOGIES | COLLECTIONS

 
Key_Silence_Cover.jpg

Key Silence

Accession Records, 2006

On April 14 2006, Accession Records released Key Silence, a 2CD box containing a selection of pivotal Silence tracks (all digitally re-mastered), as well as 10 previously unreleased tracks.

The first CD, entitled Anthology, features Benko's and Hladnik's selection of 13 quintessential Silence songs. Tracing the duet's evolution from its 1997 debut album, Ma non troppo, to the critically acclaimed Veronika soundtrack, the record focuses on what Benko lovingly describes as the band's less faulty tracks and most interesting failures. CD1 also features Ernst Horn's remarkable remix of Scream, Greeneyes and a previously unreleased live version of The 5th Elephant, recorded during one of the band's most memorable performances – the 2004 Vain Tribute Concert at Cankarjev dom in Ljubljana.

The second CD, entitled Rarities, is a regular collector's item. Aside from 9 previously unreleased tracks – archival recordings, experiments, theatre pieces – the disc also contains one brand new track, comprised exclusively of vocals: Talkshow. CD2 also contains a new, instrumental version of God Forsaken Country, performed by the Rožmarinke string quartet. The new version was originally released on Rožmarinke's eponymous 2004 debut album and was, until now, available only in Slovenia.

Ranging from the immaculate electro-pop of Kraljestvo mačjih oči to the ethnic sounds of Lagrimae, from the playful, cabaret-like The Last Dance to the orchestral grandeur of Der Untergang, Key Silence represents the ultimate testament to the band's stylistic eclecticism and artistic potential. Whether you are trying to complete your Silence collection or looking for a comprehensive introduction to the band's extensive body of work, Key Silence is the perfect choice.

Additional information

SOUNDTRACKS

 

The Passion of the Cold

The Pekinpah Association, 2008

On Sep 1 2008, the Pekinpah Association released The Passion of the Cold, a double album with music from (or inspired by) Tomaž Pandur’s plays Barroco and Kaligula.

The album, printed as a lush, hard-cover book, contains 32 pages of play-related texts (including forewords written by Benko), lyrics and photographs, as well as two CD's with 30 previously unreleased tracks. The book is in English.

The album, Silence’s first venture into the realm of classical music, can be perceived – in the light of the 2006 anthology Key Silence – as a symbolic break with the duet’s previous works. Nevertheless, at closer inspection, the record reveals all the characteristics – the idiosyncratic melodies and distinguishing vocals – that listeners have come to expect from Silence. 

Additional information

The album, a limited edition consisting of 500 nubered and hand-signed copies, is available exclusively at www.pekinpah.com

 

Ljubezen na smrt

Music from Matjaž Pograjc's same-titled play / banquet / musical
Mladinsko Theatre, 2007

Ljubezen na smrt Koncert za kuharja, 6 vajencev in 3 pomivalce (Love Unto Death Concert for a Cook, 6 Apprentices and 3 Dish-washers) – the 9th collaboration between director Matjaž Pograjc and Silence – is a peculiar concoction of theatre, cuisine, poetry, and music. The play's versatile cast acts, prepares a selection of delicious specialities under the supervision of chef Danilo Ivanuša and performs live – in pure musical style – fifteen songs written by Silence and eleven renowned poets. All of which simultaneously.

The performance takes place in what can only be described as a twisted Sushi-bar. A new dish is prepared during each song and placed on a conveyor belt circling among the viewers. Due to the limited amount of food produced by the cast, only 78 viewers are admitted per play.

The play's unorthodox concept proved a success. Ljubezen na smrt opened on April 12th 2007 and is still going strong. According to Delo (Slovenia), Ljubezen na smrt is ... an unusual, original and mature theatre play ... like every true work of art, it gives rise to numerous unpleasant questions.

In March 2007, Silence set to music fifteen poems written by predominantly expressionist and symbolist poets (Paul Verlaine, Arthur Rimbaud, Georges Bataille, Charles Baudelaire, Else Lasker-Schüler, Oscar Wilde, Gottfried Benn, Georg Trakl, Edgar Allan Poe, Federico García Lorca, and Georg Heym). All poems share the subjects of love and death or, better yet, the undeniable relation between the two. The poems also share an unsettling, yet delightfully irresistible directness. They are humorous, cynical, morbid, perverse, shrewd, uncanny – not to mention completely nuts – and will undoubtedly shatter any preconceptions you may have about poetry. Here's a sample – Gottfried Benn's A Fine Childhood:

The mouth of a girl who had long lain in the reeds
looked so chewed up.
When we broke open the torso, the esophagus was so full of holes.
Finally in a bower under the diaphragm
we found a nest of young rats.
One little sister rat lay dead.
The others were living off liver and kidney,
drinking the cold blood and enjoying
a fine childhood.
And fine and fast was their death too:
we threw the whole bunch into water.
Oh, how those little snouts squeaked!

The album, produced and mixed by Blaž Celarec and Silence, was recorded in April 2007 at studio Jork. The songs are sung by the play's cast (Neda R. Bric, Maruša Oblak, Branko Jordan, Janja Majzelj, Ivan Peternelj, and Ivan Rupnik) and performed by three remarkable musicians: Blaž Celarec (drums, percussion, clarinet), Žiga Golob (double bass, steel guitar, ukulele, singing saw), and Jože Šalej (upright piano). As each song is realized in a different style, the soundtrack's most distinguishing feature is – beyond doubt – its surprising diversity. Even a shred of Russian Orthodox church music can be found amidst the soundtrack's extensive list of seemingly incompatible genres: country, samba, blues, cabaret ... Another peculiarity: Ljubezen na smrt is Silence's first album in Slovene, the duet's mother-tongue.

 

Veronika

Music from the contemporary dance performance Veronika Decides ...
Slovene National Theatre Opera and Ballet Ljubljana, 2005

If Veronika would've heard this soundtrack, she might have decided to ... dance.
Maja Pertič, Primorske novice

Top class and virtuosic.
Rok Vevar, Delo

In July 2004, Silence were asked to write a score for a contemporary ballet based on Paulo Coelho's bestselling novel Veronika Decides to Die.

The protagonist of Coelho's novel is a young woman from Ljubljana (the capital of Silence's homeland, Slovenia) who, after a failed suicide attempt, discovers beauty and love in the strangest of places; the local sanatorium. In the words of Gagik Ismailian, the director of the piece: Coelho's novel is about those who do not fit into patterns considered normal by the society. It is about madness and the need to find an alternative way of living for people who frequently have to face other people's prejudices just because they think in a different way.

The ballet, produced by the Slovene National Theatre Opera and Ballet Ljubljana, required 80 minutes of original music ranging from intimate miniatures to complex orchestral compositions.

Despite the introspective nature of Coelho's book, Veronika Decides ... was first of all a dance piece. As such, it required intensely rhythmic music. The score was therefore based on rough electronic beats and distorted synthesizer sounds. The latter were in turn contrasted by lyrical strings and pianos. In order to emphasize the universality of Veronika's predicament, Silence decided to record the vocals in an imaginary language composed of words taken from various (living and dead) languages. The soundtrack was written, produced, recorded and mixed between July 2004 and March 2005 in Silence's private production facility, the Daily Girl studio.

The album is available on Bandcamp

 

Maison des rendez-vous

Music from Betontanc's same-titled play
Nika Records, 2003

Betontanc's ninth play, inspired by the work of Harold Pinter, took place in a macabre room that appeared to have a life of its own. Constantly swinging like a giant seesaw, the hostile room deprived the actors/performers of what we all take for granted: the firm ground beneath our feet. The remarkable stage provided the perfect setting for the exceptional mastery of the Betontanc dance company; a setting in which one is forced to bend and occasionally break the law of gravity in order to survive.

The music is predominantly electronic. In order to capture the play's claustrophobic, unhinged feel, the duet used a wide array of radically down-pitched synthesizer bells. Maison is Silence's first self-produced album. The record was written and programmed in the duet's private studio, The Daily Girl. All acoustic elements (vocals and strings) were recorded by Peter Penko at Raingarden 9. While undoubtedly intense and dark, the score is primarily defined by its unbridled experimentalism and kooky humour.

The album is available on Bandcamp

SINGLES

 

Strange in a Strange Way (Disco Politico)

Digital release, 2016

They're here! The barbarians are among us! They're invading our homes, disrupting our lives, wrecking the economy, breaking laws, causing conflicts and misery ... and dancing in a silly fashion. We are, of course, talking about politicians.

We must build a great wall of irony around us, lest they drive us mad. Allow us to provide some building material: we present Strange in a Strange Way, or, as we lovingly refer to it, the Disco Politico.

The single is available on Bandcamp

 

Skin: The Remixes

Matrix Music, 2005

On October 5 2005, Matrix Music released three remixes of Skin, the opening track to Silence's 3rd studio album, Vain  A Tribute to a Ghost. The remixes were realised by Umek, Valentino Kanzyani, and Random Logic. 

Random Logic's remix is based on the very first recording of the track, left unfinished during the production of Silence's 2nd studio album, Unlike a Virgin.

 

Son of Sin Maxi Single

Chrom Records, 2000

Son of Sin was released as the lead single of Silence's 2nd studio album, Unlike a Virgin. The Son of Sin Maxi Single contains remixes by Link 999. It also features Ernst Horn's (Deine Lakaien, Helium Vola) stirring remix of Scream, Greeneyes, another track from Unlike a Virgin.

PROJECTS | PRODUCTION

 

Laibach – 1 VIII 1944 Warszawa

Narodowe Centrum Kultury, 2014
Features material composed and produced by Silence

1 VIII 1944 Warszawa marks the second collaboration between Laibach and Silence since Volk. Eight years after giving national anthems a thorough makeover, Laibach and Silence returned to reinterpreting anthemic songs.

The EP features adaptations of three famous songs from World War 2: Warszawskie Dzieci (Warsaw Children), Zog Nit Keyn Mol (Never Say), and Mach Dir Nichts Daraus (Do Not Worry). Commissioned by the Polish National Centre for Culture and funded by the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, the project commemorates the 70th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising.

Warszawskie Dzieci and Zog Nit Keyn Mol were adapted and produced by Silence. The songs were recorded in February and March 2014 at Daily Girl, Silence's home studio. The bass was performed by Jani Hace. Benko appears as guest vocalist on both tracks, performing – for the first time – in Polish and Yiddish.

Warszawskie Dzieci includes verses from Serce w Plecaku (Heart in a Knapsack) by Michał Zieliński, as well as an adaptation of Frédéric Chopin's Raindrop prelude (Chopin's music was the last thing to be broadcast on Polskie Radio before Warsaw fell to the Nazis).
 
The third track, Mach Dir Nichts Daraus, was adapted, recorded and produced by Luka Jamnik. The EP was mastered by Tom Meyer at Master and Servant, Hamburg.

Warszawskie Dzieci, the most famous song to be written during the Warsaw Uprising, was penned by Andrzej Panufnik and Stanisław Ryszard Dobrowolski.
 
Zog Nit Keyn Mol, also known as Partizaner Lied (Partisan Song), is the most famous uprising song in Yiddish. The lyrics were written by Hirsch Glick, a Jewish poet and partisan who was imprisoned in the Weiße Wache concentration camp and later transferred to the Vilnius Ghetto. The song was written to the melody of То не тучи грозовые облака (Those Aren't Clouds but Thunderclouds), a pre-war Soviet song written by Dmitri and Daniel Pokrass.
 
Mach Dir Nichts Daraus was written by Franz Grothe and Willy Tehmel in 1944. The song was first performed by Marika Rökk, an Austrian-German singer who became famous in German films, notably in the Nazi era.

 

Laibach – Volk: Dead in Trbovlje

Mute Records / EMI, 2008
Features material composed, produced, and performed by Silence

This is an absolute must as companion to the 'Volk’ album, thanks to the stage presence of the band, the power of the live delivery, and the enhancement of the content and message via video screening. Laibach's gesamtkunstwerk still proves totally unique and constantly evolving ... Japan's anthem, sung by Boris Benko, is still the highlight absolutely breathtaking and Laibach's most musical moment ever. 
Terrorizer

In June 2008, Laibach released the recording of their March 24 2007 concert in Trbovlje (SLO) – the band's birthplace – on DVD. The release features the entire Volk repertoire, written and produced by Silence, performed live by Laibach and Silence. Hladnik – who was part of the entire Volk tour – plays the keyboards, whilst Benko performs Nippon and Slovania as special guest. As a bonus, the DVD offers a collection of some of the most relevant screens that were projected during the show, animated stories of some of the most important songs. The Laibach music videos associated with Volk are part of the content too. The project ends with a tour medley, a short video commentary as a souvenir from some of the places where Laibach have toured with Volk.

 

Laibach – Volk

Mute Records, 2006
Composed and produced by Silence

A beautiful and deeply charged reworking of fourteen national anthems, with Laibach's stentorian vocals augmented by gorgeous sounds from the Slovenian duo Silence, whose Boris Benko sings like a Mitteleuropean Billy Mackenzie. 
The Quietus

... A beautiful, profound, engaging album ... encourages repeated listening in a way previous Laibach records do not.
MOJO

... It is that subtlety, humility almost, that marks Volk as a masterful stroke, the likes of which Laibach may never again achieve.
PopMatters

... Serious contender for this year’s best album. 
Virus!

... Superbly realised. 
The Guardian

Volk is a true masterpiece and this is mostly thanks to the impressive productional work of Silence. 
Gothtronic

Laibach devised the concept for their 12th studio album, Volk, during their extensive 2004 – 2005 WAT world tour. The band, renowned for its harsh, industrial sound and relentless, straight-kick beats, was ready to enter uncharted territory. Aside from re-interpreting national anthems, the band’s idea was to reveal the mainstream potential of an otherwise profoundly subversive, underground act and focus on what was usually hidden: the subtle side of Laibach. Needless to say, finding songwriters / producers capable of bringing this bold idea to life without damaging Laibach’s integrity and alienating the band’s vast fan base was a delicate task.

Meritorious for the release of the Maison des rendez-vous soundtrack on TehNika in 2003, Laibach’s Ivan Novak brought Silence’s subsequent work on Vain A Tribute to a Ghost and Veronika to the attention of other Laibach members. Soon afterwards, Silence were given the unique opportunity to write and produce for one of the most remarkable bands in the world.

During the following eight months, Silence composed and produced thirteen tracks under Laibach's supervision: Germania, America, Anglia, Rossiya, Francia, Italia, Espańa, Yisra’el, Türkiye, Zhonghuá, Nippon, Slovania, and Vaticanae. The lyrics were written at a later stage by Laibach. All of these tracks – except Nippon and Vaticanae – were recorded and produced (with the exception of Milan Fras' vocals, recorded at the NSK Studio) in Silence's private production facility, the Daily Girl Studio. Silence recorded most of the vocalists (the children choir in Rossiya, Mina Špiler, Brina Vogelnik-Saje, Elvira Hasanagić, and Nagisa Moritoki) and instrumentalists (Miha Dovžan, Luka Jamnik, and Peter Dekleva) that appear on the album. The grand piano, strings, and five other vocalists (Seaming To, Zed Mehmet, Maria Awa, Yolanda Grant-Thompson, and Artie Fischel) were recorded during the final stages of production at various facilities: Studio Metro (Ljubljana), Metropolis (London), and The Instrument (London).

Hladnik's engagement – he was responsible for the album's piano and string arrangements – resulted in what is arguably his best work so far. This becomes apparent while listening to Nippon, a complex acoustic track performed by a 40-piece string orchestra and piano soloist. Some might recall it from the Key Silence promotional concert in Cankarjev dom, where Nippon was first performed. Hladnik also wrote the arrangement for Vaticanae, a track that marks Silence's first encounter with a remarkable instrument: the church organ. 

Benko, responsible for programming and vocal arrangements, appears as guest vocalist on seven tracks (Germania, America, Anglia, Francia, Nippon, Espańa, and Slovania). He also appears as backing vocalist on three of the remaining tracks (Francia, Rossiya, and Vaticanae). On Volk, Benko mainly experimented with extensive vocal layering (numerous overlapping vocal lines sung by an individual vocalist), thus achieving elaborate and distinguishable vocals.

Post-production and mix were done by Paul Walton a.k.a. P-dub (Goldfrapp, Björk, Massive Attack) and Laibach at The Instrument. The album was mastered by Tom Meyer at Master & Servant (Hamburg). 

OTHER RELEASES

 

The Passion of the Cold Full Score

The Pekinpah Association, 2011

In 2011, the Pekinpah Association released the full score of Silence's 2008 album, The Passion of the Cold. The book contains 24 compositions written for (or inspired by) Tomaž Pandur's plays Baroque and Caligula. Silence's very first published score, edited by Hladnik, features 124 pages of meticulous notations.

The compositions range from piano pieces to choral and orchestral works. The edition also contains 6 songs: The True Nature of Happiness, Halfway There, Mostly Nowhere, Guillotine The Dance of the Dead, La luna, Ai successori d'odio, and Una strana schiavitù. All copies are hand signed by Silence.

Additional information

The Passion of the Cold Full Score is available exclusively at www.pekinpah.com