Review : Hammock - Chasing After Shadows... Living With the Ghosts
PitchforkThe first four people thanked in the acknowledgements of Hammock's fourth album are two members of Australian rock band the Church and the two members of Texas ambient duo Stars of the Lid. If you know both groups, you could probably piece together a bit of a picture of the music on Chasing After Shadows... Living With the Ghosts. It's diaphanous music, with one foot in the deep ambient textures of Stars of the Lid, and another in the more traditional, anthemic, and slightly psychedelic rock of the Church. It doesn't sound quite like either group-- Hammock have a unique sound that lies in the space between, and as with their previous albums, the group focuses here on constructing a sound world you can sink into, a place where the audio captures the feeling invoked by a title like "The World We Knew as Children".
The Church's Tim Powles is one of the acknowledged parties, and he's one of three drummers that helps augment the duo of Andrew Thompson and Marc Byrd on several tracks-- drums feature more prominently here than on any of the band's prior releases. Most of the vocals, sung by Christine Glass Byrd, are wordless, bleeding into the glassy texture of strings, guitars, keyboards, and horns as a sort of ghost-like echo of a human presence. The band gets close to sounding like a rock group in places. The chiming rhythm guitar and arcing, contrail-like lead guitar coax melody out of the album-- like Ride or Slowdive slowed down and blissed a lot further out. On "You Lost the Starlight in Your Eyes", they actually wrap their voices around some lyrics, an evocative repeated couplet.
For every song like that, though, there's another that sounds like an orchestra breathing or an echo crossing an abyss. Those blurred figures floating in the water on the album cover are a visual analog for the sense of unmoored drift or float created by the album's most ethereal and ambient moments. I try to imagine music videos for it, and all I come up with is slow-motion images of sand blowing off the tops of dunes and seaweed swaying with the tide. It's intensely visual music-- you really get the sense of shapes shifting and forms moving....full text
HeadphonecommuteI know that an album is timeless, when after many years I return to it, and it still sounds fresh. Not only does the sound not age, but I feel like I should tell everyone about it all over again! And the music… it slowly hovers over the roofs of the sleepy houses, swirling down the chimneys into my cold morning room, and slips into my mouth with the steam of the freshly brewed coffee… This soaring quality is the staple sound of Hammock. I first became aware of the band with their 2006 release, Raising Your Voice… Trying to Stop an Echo. There is a special quality to that album. Like an old friend, it can bring back the eternally haunting feelings of belonging with a simple gentle hug.
The fourth LP by Marc Byrd and Andrew Thompson, Chasing After Shadows… Living with the Ghosts, is a follow-up to the duo’s Maybe They Will Sing for Us Tomorrow (Hammock Music, 2008). Hammock returns with the multi-layered, reverb-heavy, sonic drifts, blending organic ambient with shoegaze and skydrift. The guitars again play as the foundation of every composition, complimented with the resonant voices of strings and subdued percussion, ready to lift you above the trees and let you fall with leaves and the warm summer breeze. Washing away the edgy remainders of last night’s bad dreams, Hammock paints a soundscape of pillow-soft meadows, deep ocean breathing, and boundless time. These ethereal lullabies are perfectly accented with track titles like “In The Nothing Of A Night”, “The World We Knew As Children”, and “Something Other Than Remaining”....full text
Music.is-amazing"Chasing After Shadows...Living with the Ghosts'', Hammock's fourth album, captures the duo transitioning into a much larger, darker sound and merging their signature cosmic guitar washes with massive layers of live, acoustic instruments and thick analog tones. Masterfully mixed by Tim Powles, member of The Church, ''Chasing'' transcends a mere listening experience by its emotional intensity and sheer beauty and is somehow able to convey one's innermost longings into sound, making for an indescribable affirmation of the spirit....full text
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