Review Summary: Forever floating in outer space.
You died and ended up in heaven. There is a faint sound droning in the background, made up of sparse, icy piano leads and strings, while gorgeously accompanied by a children choir. Immediately, this soothing feeling of ease runs through you, thinking this is the serene setting you'll experience forever. All the remembrance aside, when you open your eyes, a bright light occurs in the distance, so you start walking towards it. Suddenly, the music gets louder and a cold wind starts blowing. Also, this slight fear that you'll never reach for that flicker of light sinks in. At the same time, the lovely melody slowly morphs into an intense, bitter requiem that sounds more and more detached. The road narrows and it looks like you're stuck in a loop, while the sun gradually slips over the horizon, giving way for the moon and stars to rise. As the night falls, you feel lost and panicked, as if trying to shove your way through an overcrowded street. At some point, gravity ceases, so everything around starts to float and in the distance, several waves of cosmic debris are visible. It feels like time has stopped, while the light fades away into the myriad of stars that don't have the power to brighten all surroundings. As hope starts to become a loss, the warmth of dawn seems million miles away. All your memories have been erased and you don't even remember who you are or why are you floating in mid-space.
No matter how much one can relate or not, this is one of the scenarios Hammock's music paints in my mind. Their records can be both soothing or saddening, depending on the mood and Oblivion Hymns
is no different. Besides providing the same, otherworldly experience each album is gifted with, the latest enriches the formula mainly with a children choir, string quartet and several other instruments. The results are again surprisingly touching, especially on centerpiece, "Like A Valley With No Echo" and the hauntingly beautiful 'Holding Your Absence', that build on eerie layers of synthesizers, haunting piano lines and effects-soaked guitars. Also, 'I Could Hear The Water At The Edge Of All Things' boasts some infectious leads, giving way to a pristine, a capella choir-led coda, while the lush, 'Hope Becomes A Loss' is a fitting finale since it grows into a droning wall of sound that concludes with the grandiose, 'Tres Domine'. Even if these tunes might be more prominent than others on this sluggish journey, each is essential.
Although it doesn't surpass their latest mammoth masterpiece, Departure Songs
, it's a natural progression to their transcending discography. This neoclassical-meets-post-rock direction opens new doors for Hammock, because there's an expanding foundation on which these guys can add all the defining elements and more. On the surface it might not seem much different, but they have always hinted towards it and Oblivion Hymns
leaves the listener anxious for the next move. Luckily, it won't take long, as the band has already started recording demos somewhere high up in the mountains.