Everything and Nothing
or on Facebook
It's been over a decade since Hammock
released their debut album Kenotic, and three years since their last
album Oblivion Hymns. The latest incarnation of their personal and
musical journey has all the usual guitar sonics you'd expect from them but is
arguably the most “mainstream” sounding Hammock album. Perhaps this is because
it reflects their now “hopeful” mindset after the heavier sentiments of the
previous two albums. All the expected elements are still there on Everything
and Nothing – fans of the duo's work will not be disappointed. It's a long
album of 20 tracks (4 of which are bonus tracks), and in Marc Byrd's words (the
other half of the duo is Andrew Thompson) is part of an ongoing exercise in
Opening the album is the sweet and
atmospheric Turn Away and Return. Distant guitar licks and a minimalist rhythm
gradually build while many of the typical Hammock elements such as cello and
ethereal vocals are a little reminiscent of the otherworldly vibe of work by Jónsi
Birgisson from Sigur Ros.
The introspective piece Marathon Boy marks
a slight departure from the norm where a piano with a simple yet affecting
melody of few notes leads throughout. As crystalline pads drift about and muted
guitar refrains add texture the track builds to a peak before easing off.
Musically understated, it exemplifies Hammock's bewitching ability to evoke
feelings and emotions in the careful listener.
The titular track starts off with twangy
bassy notes and a soft beat. A buzzing sound then slides to and fro across the
soundscape and a guitar melody kicks in. Bright refrains, upbeat drums and
trademark sheets of guitar coupled with vocals give a sense of an epiphanic
rebirth. It's one of their most accessible tracks – one that I'd recommend to
someone unfamiliar with the band. Call it soft rock, shoegazer rock, whatever
you want, it's pointless trying to categorise Hammock's sound which in my
experience is unique.
For me the one let down was feeling a
little cheated by some pieces. Burning Down the Fascination starts like several
of their ambient tracks on previous albums. Glassy guitar lines undulate and you
think it's going to remain that way then suddenly the track bursts into rock
mode with driving drums and guitars and “woo hoo” style vocals. Yes, it is very
enjoyable and competes with (Tonight) We Burn Like Stars that Never Die on Departure
Songs for being one of their most gung ho tracks, but defying expectations
at the start is jarring if you're hoping for an ambient piece.
Reviewed by Dene Bebbington for Ambient Visions