01 Dec 2021 - Wouter
Ambient, Post-Rock | self-released | Release date: 05 Nov 2021
Sometimes I feel like Hammock are the worst kept secret. When you ask people if they know them, a lot of them will say no. But with almost 400.000 monthly listeners on Spotify and their songs like ”I Can Almost See You” (over 35 million listens), ”Maybe They Will Sing for Us Tomorrow” (21 million) and ”Then the Quiet Explosion” (over 21 million) being spun that much, most of those same people probably have heard a song of them over the years. Maybe that is because of the ambient nature of their music, who knows, but one thing is very clear when you listen to Hammock. They are distinct in what they do, and they do it very very well.
Hammock has been releasing music for 17 years. With Elsewhere the composer duo Marc Byrd and Andrew Thompson from Nashville, Tennessee are releasing their fifth album in five years. If their music was heavier, I would have said they are all killer no filler. Obviously, inspiration flows abundantly for Hammock.
The ambient music Hammock produces borders the classical, it ebbs and flows through layers and layers of orchestration. Although some might think ambient music is best suited as a background to doing other stuff, to me, Elsewhere feels urgent and compels you to listen closely. It is best listened to as a whole. You, the listener should give it the chance to spark your associations, and take you on your own personal journey. One of the highlights of the album is ”Heavy Laden”, pulsating strings and a faint delayed guitar feel like standing in front of a mirror and being forced to reflect. As I feel a little more reflection is what the world could need right now, I highly recommend listening to it.
Another stand out track is ”Afraid to Go Home” what sounds like a baritone guitar sets a beautiful heavy tone and carries the song forward. Provocative strings make the composition feel very scenically. I dare you to not feel a thing while listening to this.
By song four, ”Dying Alone”, Hammock has lured the listener in, and if you make it this far, it feels impossible to turn it off. ”In the Empty Space You Used to Breathe” (I’ll take song titles that make you cry for $400) the piano makes an effective entrance while ”Someday” is one of the most guitar driven tracks on the album and the most post rock adjacent song on the album.
The title track feels like Sigur Ros with its apparent backwards phasing intro and just feels epic. It is amazing how well Hammock use soundscapes that feel poignant but wide at the same time. The songs are not unnecessarily stretched out, but feel like they could be the soundtrack to a lifetime worth of memories at the same time. This is crafting music at its best.
”Ineffable”, the second to last track, feels like an exclamation point to the album. As it is literally hard to put into words what we are all witnessing these past year and a half, and sometimes that can be explained best by putting it into instrumental music.
What is effable, is that Elsewhere is an ambient tour de force of little over 42 minutes. And an album that fits the zeitgeist of loss and hope, uncertainty and reflection to perfection.