Review Summary: Hammock have returned to living with the ghosts, and the result is one of the best records in the band's career.
For all its pretty and uplifting melodies, Departure Songs
was a damn lukewarm piece of music. That’s right, the double disc masterwork of ambient kings, Hammock, was a sham in every sense of the word. Pandering to its audience each of the album’s 19 tracks worked like a corny exercise in contrived profundity. You could practically visualize sweeping scenic vistas and time lapse videos of sunrises as the music played. It was uplifting and lovely but dull in every regard. But the post-rock heavy outing was a mere aside as Hammock have taken a very different turn with their latest, Oblivion Hymns
The emphasis on ambient soundscapes has been brought to the forefront here and one couldn’t be happier. Hammock have always excelled here and thankfully Oblivion Hymns
sounds beautifully evocative without all the excess cheese that was prevalent on the band’s last record. The post-rock influences have been toned down exponentially, but are still lurking in the background. This works to flesh out the music rather than acting as a crutch. Thus, Hammock feel much more comfortable this time around. They are doing what they know and are doing a damn good job at it. Much like 2005’s Kenotic
, Oblivion Hymns
is a much darker sort of record. But unlike said work, which felt like a rainy, somber experience, Oblivion Hymns
feels much more constrictive and empty. Like an intangible hollowness that feels somewhat cold. This is what makes Hammock feel completely revitalized, as the band have not been able to truly reach a level of emotional effectiveness in years.
“My Mind Was A Fog…My Heart Became A Bomb” opens up the record with a swelling sort of sadness that sets the tone for the rest of what is to come. Now Oblivion Hymns
isn’t an entirely tragic affair, but the emphasis on more melancholy themes makes it feel much more understated and emotional. At the peak of “Holding Your Absence” this becomes readily apparent with a yearning exclaimed by a weak and strained chorus of high tuned sounds, all collapsing into a slow resolution of fading piano. It’s beautiful how it plays out throughout the record so cohesively, with each song acting as a wonderful compliment to the next.
feels like an exhilarating return to form for Hammock. Expressly ambient, the album drops some of the bloated, half baked ideas that held back their last couple of outings. In its place is a fully realized work of ambient bliss; dark, simple, and pure. It’s an album stripped bare leaving only a fleeting ghost, and one couldn’t ask for anything more.