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Raising Your voice ... Trying to Stop an Echo



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This is the third release from Hammock, and they have been picked up by the excellent Darla Records label out of Sacramento. This album is, in many respects, more of the same from the lads. Hammock continues to primarily be a collaboration between two guitarists with an abiding interest in, and deep skill with, ambient music. If you have enjoyed their previous releases, i am certain that you will enjoy this one as well.

To keep things interesting, Hammock continue to grow. They continue their collaboration with vocalist Christine Glass Byrd and cellist Matt Slocum. And to their steady haze of effected guitar, they add in some nice drumming (much of which sounds more organic and less programmed than on earlier releases), and even acoustic guitar!

The record starts on a real high point with I Can Almost See You, which coasts along under cascading washes of effected guitar. And then Ms. Byrd joins in, not singing, just making sounds. The overall effect reminds me of Sigur Ros.

The next track, the album's title track, shakes things up entirely when one of the Hammock boys (i am unclear whether it is Marc Byrd or Andrew Thompson) starts singing. This song features drumming and vocals, and is perhaps their most accessible work to date. It references The Chameleons and The Church, and i can see this being enjoyed by a broader range of people than those who would normally listen to Hammock's ambient drone. Heck, this could even find airplay on most radio stations!

A few ambient tunes later, Hammock hit another real high point. The House Where We Grew Up starts with a languid bass riff, almost something from The For Carnation or Codeine, and a light tapped drum. Echoes of guitar dance around the riff, which moves along reflectively. A really lovely song.

Later, Clouds Cover the Stars builds to an ambient high. Water sounds burble and the guitars are a faint haze. This is well done ambience like only Hammock can do, but alas the song is over in less than 2 minutes, a brief interlude to Floating Away in Every Direction. This is a slow burner. It starts with a Windy and Carl-esque guitar haze, and then slowly erupts into light guitar strumming and e-bow. Lovely.

The album continues like that for a total of 75 minutes. Hammock pack a lot of material onto the album, and although a casual listener might think that they repeat themselves (at times, the layers of effects do get slightly repetitive) deep listening reveals much depth in their wandering tunes.

I want to mention one more piece, the two track cycle of Disappear Like the Morning... into ...Like Starlight Into Day. The two titles even seem to read together, and the two songs flow into one another to make a nice whole. The first track features some of lovely hand drumming, while the second chimes with acoustic guitar. They work together really well.

Overall, i can find much to enjoy in this record. Ambient music fans would do well to give Hammock a listen. I, for one, am glad to see Hammock getting wider distribution. I wish them continued success. And (since i have mentioned it my two previous reviews), would love to see them take the highway down here for a show.

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Also on EvilSponge:
     Album: Kenotic
     EP: Stranded Under Endless Sky

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