Hammock-Not Swinging, But Soaring

Hammock’s Chasing After Shadows… Living With Ghosts

Echoes May CD of the Month

You can hear an Audio version of this with Hammock’s music

There are Hammocks you swing in.  They lull you into a hazy dream on a hot summer day.  Hammock the band might have the same effect on you, that is until that hazy summer dream becomes a mind- altering journey into an interior space.

Hammock are Nashville-based guitarists Marc Byrd and Andrew Thompson.  They’ve made their money writing country and Christian music but their hearts reside in the shoegaze sound of 80s bands like the Cocteau Twins, My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive.  They were in an underrated Christian alt-rock band called Common Children that emerged from that sound.  But Byrd and Thompson decided they liked the instrumental side of things and formed Hammock, releasing their first album, Kenotic, in 2005.  They immediately established a penchant for recordings full of densely reverbed, layered and distorted guitars.

After drifting off into the drone zone on their previous album, Maybe They Will Sing for Us Tomorrow,  Hammock have returned to the more dramatic, melodically entrancing sound of their 2007 CD,  Raising Your Voice….Trying to Stop an Echo. They’ve also returned to elliptical Zen koan titles.  Their new CD is called Chasing After Shadows…Living with the Ghosts.

Hammock’s music justifies that poetic imagery. Each song is like a symphonic tone poem, but rendered in electric colors, assertive grooves and shimmering, sustain-laden guitars.  They build from modal repetition: A simple guitar arpeggio is repeatedly deployed through reverb, delays and sheets of dappled distortion that moves with inevitability toward a grand crescendo.

Hammock Pedal Board @ Echoes

Although Hammock create an orchestra of sound with their guitars, they also use strings, which give their music a hymn-like quality on “In the Nothing of the Night” and “The Whole Catastrophe.”  It’s as if Estonian sacred minimalist composer Arvo Pärt plugged in, tripped out and found the spirit.  Guitars have rarely sounded so celestial as they do with Hammock.  Long sinuous sustains, orchestral pads that shimmer in cosmic reverb and melodies that seem to be carved out of a night sky make Chasing After Shadows…Living with the Ghosts an immersion experience.

Hammock’s guitar orchestra can be heard on their latest album Chasing After Shadows…Living with the Ghosts.  It’s the Echoes CD of the Month for May.  I’ll be featuring it on Mondays’ show.

This has been an Echo Location, Soundings for New Music.

John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

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