Sitting down to record demos for his newest EP, Now What, Jack Silverman heard a faint and distant voice calling through his amp. This was no hallucination but, rather, a literal preacher transmitting nearby, resulting in radio interference. Never one to miss out on a happy accident, Silverman hit record and captured that evangelizing in its full mysterious form, which you can still hear throughout the final version of lead single “Mixed Signals.”
That feeling of a haunting presence runs throughout the EP. “Searchlight” embraces a winding saxophone solo (courtesy of Josh Smith) set against a noir backdrop before unfurling into a sinister guitar landscape; an aural spotlight forever circling. “Cerulean” takes a deceivingly gentler bent, with Kim Reuger (Belly Full of Stars) providing a lead piano line that transitions between a hypnotic and polyrhythmic guitar and an otherworldly squelch. These specters may not be as literal as the invading presence of the radio ghost but they create a body of sounds that evokes an otherworldly realm.
Silverman’s body of work has run a wide gamut over the years — learning jazz guitar from Emily Remler, playing weekly in the Afro Cleveland Orchestra and burning the AM hours in Alphabet City with Lord Demos and the Gangster Rock Nation, to name but a few. In 2009, he released his first album of original compositions, The Jack Silverman Ordeal, produced by renowned bassist Viktor Krauss. These experiences have honed his guitar playing skills and love of improvisation, the former of which is on full display throughout Now What, the later being embraced through his willingness to let producer Roger Moutenot (Sleater-Kinney, Yo La Tengo) lead the songs down unexpected paths. Piping a guitar through a Micro Moog synth or learning bass parts on the fly may not have been part of the plan but having the confidence to keep your ear on what best serves the song is a hard-earned lesson on full display here.
Pulling from a lifetime of work across different genres has molded Now What into a succinct trio of songs that feels definitively cohesive but not without its nods to the likes of noir, free jazz, bluegrass and even the Grateful Dead. All these ingredients run through the Silverman lens create a conduit into a supernatural feeling and a reminder of the allure of the unknown. Like a voice emerging through an amplifier, we just have to pay attention.
Now What will be released via yk Records on March 26th, 2021, with “Mixed Signals” preceding the release in late February.