Review Summary: A return to formlessness.
It would be trite to attempt any sort of generalized statement of how therapeutic Hammock’s music can be. If you were to scour any of their albums’ forums, you would likely encounter countless confessionals from listeners attesting that Hammock create a safe haven for them. Whether or not you give credence to numbers, it’s hard not to respect a band for showing such consistency in emotional impact and at such a grand scale. However, Hammock have always been slightly hindered by their modus operandi. They have never been too keen on touring, and the droning nature of their music makes them unappealing to many listeners seeking instant gratification - not that it matters. While it’s silly to make assumptions of an artist’s intent - not to mention it’s usually a good idea to separate the art from the artists in any case - Hammock seem to genuinely enjoy making music that medicates listeners who revel in their soothing textures. Hammock are the antithesis of brevity, and The Sleepover Series, Volume 2
is possibly the most deliberate album in their discography to date.
Yes, Hammock take as much time as they need to establish their desired mood. There are no durational confines here. Volume 2
, like its predecessor in the series, relies heavily on droning tectonics to gradually build a path towards rapture - or confusion, depending on your mindset. For example, if you are willing to yield to “The Lonely Now”, don’t be at all surprised if you have a great deal of trouble gathering your thoughts into something coherent. Expectedly, trying to describe this effect follows suit. It’s almost obligatory when discussing such an ambitious ambient piece like this to insert some short story that haphazardly attempts to help the reader visualize the progression of the album. I’ll restrain myself, if only a little. Volume 2
is so ethereal and unrestricted that any attempt to summarize the flow of the album would inevitably come off shoehorned. It's difficult - perhaps utterly pointless - to draw attention to any solely gripping moments on Volume 2
because, well, there are none. There are no instances of overshadowing, or any discernible climax. The album flows together in such a way that various tracks are nearly indistinguishable… nearly. “No Trace… No Shadow” wanders through a dark space, but alongside a comforting presence. “Original Light” shimmers with optimism, but never naivety. “From Silence into Silence” features lush underlying melodies that waft through cavernous spaces to reveal pockets of light. The album is dominated by brooding drone, and the various changes throughout the compositions are meticulously subtle. You could choose to analyze these occurrences like an amateur meteorologist, or splash in the puddles without reservation. Or, perhaps more likely, sulk as you gaze out the rain drop strewn window. Make no mistake, Hammock know how to strike an emotional chord in the listener.
The Sleepover Series, Volume 2
could easily be the most rewarding album Hammock has released in years, but it also demands the most immersion. You won’t put up much of a fight though. Volume 2
is the soundtrack to self-realization, yet simultaneously, the surrender of certainty. Hammock neither promise answers nor discourage your advances. If there is any challenge to be had, it is entirely self-inflicted. If my own listening experience serves as any indication, you might see yourself waging war with your own inner turmoil, only to succumb to all-encompassing peace of mind. This is solace. This is self-medication in the form of music.