Hammock – Oblivion Hymns

Oblivion Hymns cover artReviewed by: Bryan K.

When you listen to a Hammock album in a way you know what to expect. You’ll be placed in front of a white canvas and whatever is put on that canvas is going to be beautiful. Each track will add an image or a layer or a feeling and you’ll get a clearer and deeper understanding of the picture being painted in front of your eyes. Oblivion Hymns paints one of their most beautiful canvasses to date.

Excuse the cliché above, but Hammock is a band that’s only true descriptor is unique. Of course, words like beautiful, ethereal, majestic, can all be used, but they fail in the most magnificent of ways. They fall short because they are just words. The music, the layers, the use of every instrument is what brings life to those hollow words.  Hammock is what people think of when they desire a soundtrack to their lives. Just go on Youtube and see how often their music is appropriated. They make the kind of music that people want to live their lives by. I can think of no greater compliment.

Oblivion Hymns follows their dual CD Departure Songs. In many ways these albums feel connected. Departure Songs, while almost upbeat in places, seemed to be about letting go or dying. The album’s title would be a giveaway. Oblivion Hymns follows in a similar vein. But these songs add a texture that felt intentionally absent on Departure Songs. Amidst the painfully sad textures of Oblivion Hymns, there is an undeniable streak of hope. From the use of choral sections to the beauty of the strings, Oblivion Hymns seems to say that this journey, while it may be ending, does not have to end poorly.

I find pointing to individual tracks to be difficult. The album, like most of their work, feels like a whole. Yet, I can say that ‘Like a Valley With No Echo’ drew me in. I’m a sucker for the strings and the slow build that never needs to break. The song is sad but gorgeous. It epitomizes the album. As I said before, the introduction of choral sections gives the music a dimension that you know works the second it starts. The only track that gives me pause is ‘Tres Domines’. It feels more like a bonus track and is slightly jarring, but given what precedes it I cannot lay too much fault.

To those who would say that this is just Hammock being Hammock, I would argue that they aren’t listening. Each album is a movement. I feel as though Oblivion Hymns isn’t the next step, but an area of Hammock’s catalog they’ve illuminated. I’m sure there are more areas still left in the dark waiting to be played, and I can only look forward to hearing them. Without a doubt, this is an album to listen to and to live by. Enjoy it.

   

tags: ambient drone instrumental modern classical modern composition neo-classical post-rock shoegaze Nashville