I always enjoy going to a Hammock video on YouTube, or even the user opinion section on this site, and looking at the comments that people post about the music. Some of the things I read there, the ways that people react to Hammock’s music, are just flat out silly. Still, regardless of how bizarre some of the things people write about their music are, I’d be calling bullshit on you if you sat there and told me that after having heard some of Hammock’s music you were not moved in any way, shape, or form, or at least inclined to listen to more. Basically everything that they have created is outstanding; how outstanding is up for you to decide, but there is no denying that the music they create is something else, something not found from other musicians in the scene.
With a sufficient catalogue already filled with a wide spectrum of post-rock and ambient music, I was curious what Hammock would do next. Whether they would have created another ambient release such as Maybe They Will Sing for Us
Tomorrow or conducted a nearly full-on post-rock record like Kenotic
was beyond me. I couldn’t help but wonder, however, if the follow-up to 2010’s Chasing After Shadows...
would be anything more than decent, if maybe they had finally done everything that they needed or were able to do. Well, Departure Songs
is the answer. Being the band’s first double album, Departure Songs
can be viewed as a bit of an experiment, though not on the same level as Maybe They Will Sing for Us Tomorrow
, which was the band’s first album to include barely any trace of guitars, no lyrics, and was in fact recorded live. Departure Songs
easily contains some of the band’s most beautiful pieces to date with songs such as “Dark Circles” and album closer “Tornado Warnings”. It also bears tracks like “All Is Dream and Everything Is Real” that listeners will find familiar to some of the band’s earlier songs on Raising Your Voice…
When I listened to Departure Songs
from start to finish, two words immediately came to mind: love and loss. Whenever I listen to a Hammock album anyway, love is usually one of the first things that come to mind, both for the music and the thought of it in general. If there ever were one, “Together Alone” is the one song that lacks vocals and would be perfect to have a slow dance to. Despite the fact that it would be a seven minute long dance, I can’t imagine it being anything short of an undoubtedly romantic experience. The lyrics on some of the album’s more experimental tracks, such as “(Tonight) We Burn Like Stars That Never Die” and “(Let’s Kiss) While All the Stars Are Falling Down”, in combination with the music might have you temporarily thinking in a spur-of-the-moment kind of way, one that will have you calling your friends up just to see if they want to go for a drive not knowing where you might end up.
I am happy that I had the chance to listen to “Cold Front” right as the band started streaming it, because I can barely listen to it anymore. Nearly a month ago, a good friend of mine lost his life. Since then, “Cold Front” has become practically impossible for me to hear without crying. Though it starts off with a happy, welcoming ambience, it quickly changes moods and progresses into something far more saddening. Once the guitar starts sounding and the closing cello begins to ease its way into the mix, one can’t help but to temporarily feel completely alone. “Words You Said… I’ll Never Forget You Now” is similar in a way that it may cause confusion amongst listeners by having both uplifting and depressing themes. While the music on this particular track is far from depressing, the lyrics take on a theme of death or, quite possibly, suicide. Being one of the most beautiful numbers on the first disc, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this idea of mixing opposite emotions on one track. Whether it’s because of Byrd’s angelic vocals or simply because the duo has the ability to pull it off so nicely, it truly works here.
By this point, it can pretty much be understood without saying that Marc Byrd and Andrew Thompson have truly delivered another incredible addition to their already consistently amazing discography. Falling just short of perfection, Departure Songs
is exactly what it needs to be: a collection of breathtaking songs, albeit a rather long collection as it stands at an hour and fifty minutes long, that will reel in some new listeners while keeping the already existing fans further dedicated. Departure Songs
contains everything it needs: a new batch of magnificent highlights, a necessary consistent flow from start to finish, and a working theme to assist the flow, even though the theme is a bit melancholic. Honestly, I can’t see myself asking anything more of Hammock.