PREMIERE: Sivan Silver-Swartz - Sometimes and Sometimes Not

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By Gerard Marcus

Patience is a virtue. I heard this a lot as a child, and have learned to appreciate it more and more the older I get. There are a lot of things that can be gained from not being too hasty. Clarity, focus, wisdom–pretty much anything that requires more than a minor glance to perceive. Sivan Silver-Swartz’s new release Sometimes and Sometimes Not is an album that rewards patience.

Silver-Swartz's five track debut consists of four highly creative “indie rock” tracks sandwiching a beautifully simple song featuring piano and cello. The intricacy of the compositions, rich layering of sounds, and hard panning of percussion, guitar, and vocal elements is the first thing that captures your attention when diving into this record. But what fascinates me most is how Silver-Swartz utilizes time. Sometimes and Sometimes Not is about 42 minutes long with only five tracks. The shortest song is 7 min and 37 seconds. In case you’re wondering, most songs, especially those that fall into the world of rock, are between 3 - 5 minutes long. So what is Silver-Swartz doing with all that extra time?

Silver-Swartz is a composer. He currently is getting his MFA at Cal Arts and previously studied (along with myself) at the Oberlin Conservatory in Ohio. Please take this with a grain of salt since I am not the songwriter, but having studied with him and knowing a bit about process of composition, I will say that one of the things you learn to appreciate in composition is sculpting sonic experience over time. And that’s what Sivan does so well over these 5 tracks. He introduces you to a sonic space and leaves you time to fully soak it in before moving onto the next one. This space not only encourages you pay attention to the details of the compositions, but also enhances other elements of the songs like their lyrics, giving them a weight that can only come from attentive listening. It’s a beautiful study on the usage of time in rock music, and a great example of the power of not doing things in haste.