Silence “Unlike a Virgin”
Zillo Feature 1999

Adding new facets to electro-pop with humour

With their debut album “Ma Non Troppo”, released in February 1997, Boris Benko and Primoz Hladnik alias Silence have already proven that one can also approach an intelligent, refreshingly new approach to the 80s heritage in order to gain new aspects from it even in the late 90s. With their new album “Unlike A Virgin” (Chrom Records/EFA) the duo from Ljubljana have given their experimental spirit even more freedom and created a harmonious blend of classical synthi-pop tradition, powerful wave and modern trip hop.

SILENCE Boris Benko, Primoz Hladnik

In 1994 comic-strip artists Benko and pianist Primoz decided to enrich Ljubljana’s culturally lively scene with bands such as Ljubljana and Borghesia. However, the two electro freaks themselves were still very young when Ljubljana began to spread their opaque artistic program.

“As 11- and 12-year-old teenagers, we first heard Ljubljana and Borghesia. Yes, it can be said that the two groups - especially Ljubljana - made quite a big impression on us at the time,” Primoz looks back. “Ljubljana was a kind of taboo back then, so we found it `“Laibach. Unfortunately, the system change made them less interesting. At that time we were still too young to have contact to this art scene. But today we are very proud of the fact that Ljubljana greatly appreciates our music.”

That Silence finally came to a completely different musical expression was probably primarily due to the fact that they grew up with a completely different kind of music in their youth. “We grew up with synth pop. But it’s hard to say what was really so impressive,” Primoz tries to remember the earliest influences.

“We just loved the music. Rock music and guitars weren’t our thing. “When an analog orgy went on the radio, the heart just started to beat faster.”

In the first years Silence concentrated fully on composing songs, as they did not have the possibility to record them yet. Their contribution (“The Girl Of My Best Friend”) to a Slovenian compilation of Elvis Presley cover versions suddenly aroused international interest and got the band a contract with Chrom Records. While the debut album “Ma Non Troppo” produced by Peter Penko (April Nine, Laibach, Coptic Rain) still consisted of a combination of melodic synthi-pop and modern club sounds, Silence have not only put aside their fear of guitars on their new album, with which they create a slight crossover touch on “Unlike A Virgin”, but their preference for analog synthi sounds and haunting pop melodies with modern trip-hop beats underscored.

“The development of the drum’n’bass scene is definitely very interesting. But it’s true that everything is allowed nowadays, everything is in. So it’s actually hard to talk about a specific musical development. That’s a good thing, too. So we have completely free hands when composing. We hope you’ll enjoy yodeling on the third album,” says Primoz, who actually still considers making music as fun and brings his sense of humour into the music. In the songs of “Unlike A Virgin”, sparkling with experimentation, composition skills and liveliness, strings (“God Forsaken Country”, “4-2”) as well as crashing electric guitars in the pre-record single “Son Of Sin” or on “Scream, Greeneyes”, but above all the multi-layered beats with club appeal make the album so interesting.

“Since most of our songs are based on 120 bpm, it’s hard to make it e.g. Jungle. All we have left is to slowmotion the loops. So TripHop is not a conscious decision. “The law of physics plays a much more important role here.”

Which laws the third album will follow is still in the stars, but let’s hope that we will be spared from the announced yodel orgies…

Dirk Hoffmann