For many, The Sound of Silence has been just another song by the duo Simon and Garfunkel. Boris Benko and Primoz Hladnik will change that. At the latest with their new album “Unlike A Virgin”. This new Sound of Silence is a homage to the melodiousness of the 1980s and the break beat of the 1990s, a melange of synth pop, wave and trip hop. Since 1994, Silence have been proving impressively that this mixture works, that music can be catchy and yet weird. A fact that was also taken into account by the reactions to their debut: “Ma Non Troppo” was celebrated by the relevant trade press as a renewal of synth pop.
Despite or perhaps because of the overflowing creativity and the unrestrained joy of production of the two Slovenians, fans had to wait two years for the duo’s new longplayer. But the patience has undoubtedly paid off, because instead of resting on their laurels, Boris Benko (vocals) and Primoz Hladnik (instruments) have used the time to refine their style.
Silence - “Unlike A Virgin”
A review by Dirk Hoffmann (2016)
With their debut album “Ma Non Troppo”, released in 1997, Boris Benko and Primož Hladnik primarily processed the electro-pop roots that significantly influenced their musical development and merged them with modern trip-hop beats to create a contemporary and independent mix. Instead of simply continuing this successfully implemented concept with the next album, the duo from Ljubljana, Slovenia, has already taken a radically different approach in advance. While Silence usually didn’t enter the studio until the songwriting process was finished, they went into the studio with their producer Peter Penko (Laibach, April Nine) for “Unlike A Virgin” with only a few rough sketches.
The result is an unusually raw album that brings out a surprising hardness and angularity alongside the initially trustworthy ingredients such as Benko’s ingratiating vocals and pleasing electro-pop arrangements. The first notes of the opener “Son Of Sin” continue where Silence left off with “Ma Non Troppo”, but soon after a crashing drum kit and distorted sounds set in, which together with Benko’s stirring vocals reveal a completely different side of the band. This mixture of sometimes even dreamy-soft melodies, haunting electro arrangements, loosely driving trip-hop beats and warmly ingratiating vocals on the one hand and more or less distorted vocal interludes and sounds on the other bring out a joy of experimentation that was not to be expected after the debut released two years earlier. The following songs also skilfully elude any simple categorisation. As with “Drive” or “Barbara”, Silence first caress the listener with familiar harmonic ingredients, only to abruptly take a harder course in the course of the songs, which always creates interesting contrasts. “God Forsaken Country” and “Heavy Stranger” are nice examples of how these contrasts can be skilfully resolved. On the other hand, there are songs like “4-2” and “Scream, Greeneyes” with raging electric guitars, scratchy noise cascades and aggressive vocals, which form a successful antithesis to Madonna’s perfect pop album “Like A Virgin”, to which Silence allude with their album title. And then Silence give an insight into their work on theatre productions and soundtracks, which they have intensified over the years, with the short instrumental “Something”.
Unlike A Virgin” is an extremely multi-layered album, rich in surprises and moods, with which Silence impressively underline their exceptional artistic position.
Silence continue to follow their path: the fusion of pop and experimental electro, which already characterised their first album, also defines the new album. While the musical focus of “Ma Non Troppo” was still in the field of synth pop, it was shifted in the direction of trip hop/electro with “Unlike A Virgin”.
A change that has paid off: Silence have become faster, harder, more danceable.