(IamHop note : Please welcome Bryan to the Postrockstar family! Bryan is 26, from Pennsylvania and is working towards a bachelors degree in writing and a minor in literature. His favorite bands include GY!BE, Hammock, Mono and Stars of a Lid. This is his debut review)
Hammock is known for their ability to create minimalistic ambient landscapes. There music draws you in in with spacey dreamlike progressions that often just fizzle out leaving you spellbound. They don’t often rise to the crescendos of the post-rock stereotype. Instead, Hammock lives in that strange realm called ambient music.
With their 5th album and first double album, Departure Songs, Hammock delivers what every fan expected: beautiful rolling ambiance with the occasional peaks and valleys that manipulate emotion and make you feel like your floating around Venus. The album is straightforward Hammock, but they delve into some new territory this time out.
Perhaps the most daring songs on this album are (Tonight) We Burn Like Stars That Never Die and (Let’s Kiss) While All The Stars Are Falling Down. The intro of (Tonight) sounds like something you could easily mistake as being off an M83 album—an electronic buzz that pounds its way to an 80s synth riff. Then something a little shocking happens; Someone starts singing. And not just random noises but lyrics. Of course the music masks the lyric with that sense of ambiance that makes a lazy reviewer want to start throwing the word ethereal around. (Let’s Kiss) follows this same pattern, but the riff almost overpowers the ambiance and the lyricist seems to enjoy hollering out muddled lyrics. Both songs are very different and take risks that manage to work. Instead of interrupting the ambiance of the album, these tracks punctuate what could otherwise devolve into a repetition of synthesizers and electronics.
This double album never ceases to satiate the ambient monkey. Frailty (for the Dearly Departed) is perhaps one of Hammock’s best songs to date. They enlisted the talent of The Love Sponge Springs to add some heartbreaking violin and viola. The song sounds like a truly depressing slow motion reel of a film. Seriously, listen to it and that analogy will make sense. What may surprise some listeners is the much more prevalent use of vocals, the incorporation of a variety of instruments, and a seemingly faster paced tempo to some of the songs.
What Hammock has done with this double album is stretch their limits…just a bit. If one of the tracks takes a risk, there are plenty that will take you to classic sounding Hammock. The risks they take are well executed and show a slow evolution taking place. For the diehard fan, this album offers classic Hammock with a few new twists that may ruffle feathers. For the newcomer, strap in, put on your helmet, and go to space.
Available for $12 on bandcamp: http://hammock.bandcamp.com/album/departure-songs