Hammock - Chasing After Shadows...Living with the Ghosts
Record Label: Hammock Music (Independent)
Release Date: May 18, 2010
Hammock is a well-respected band in the post-rock community, and with good reason. Created in 2005 by Mark Byrd and Andrew Thompson and based in Nashville, Tennessee, Hammock has released several albums in their time. The two most successful are Raising Your Voice…Trying to Stop an Echo, everyone’s favorite, and Maybe They Will Sing for Us Tomorrow, the product of a live performance invitation from Sigur Ros’s own Jonsi Birgisson to perform at an overseas art exhibition. How would their next album measure up to all this acclaim that their previous ones had generated? I’m pleased to report that it rises to the occasion and excels.
As I started Chasing After Shadows…Living with the Ghosts, I wasn't quite sure what to make of the title in relation to the music, but I soon became aware of the setting I was supposed to pick up on. Rich, deep, and captivating tones are the major focal point throughout, with dreamy, lullaby-like melodies emerging from them like soft ripples in still water. The slow and bottomless melodies create imagery of floating in a lake while listening to gentle waves, revealing how masterful the pairing of the album art is.
"The Backward Step" starts us off with perhaps the most infectious melody of them all. I find myself humming it without realizing quite often. The deep lows from the guitar accompanied by the violin in "Tristia" suspend the listener in their captivation. The string work in "Little Fly/Mouchette” is evocative of “Bittersweet Symphony”, piercing and atmospheric. The wordless vocals in "Breathturn" are absolutely breathtaking, and for the first time in the album, the melodies and percussion begin to take a more prominent role over the tones, growing stronger as the vocals crest. I'm a little ashamed to say at this point I was nearly lulled to sleep a couple of times, but relaxing music couldn't hurt, could it? The tones and electric guitar in “Andalusia” build magically behind a very rhythmic acoustic guitar, one of the most memorable parts of the whole album. From here on out, the percussion and backing guitar takes on a more active direction behind the electric guitar melodies, shown best in “The World We Knew as Children” and “Dust is the Devil’s Snow”.
Toward the end, we finally begin to understand the emotions put forward in the previous tracks. When I received the album, a closer look at the credits showed that the band was bold enough to describe their female vocalist as 'angelic'. I skipped ahead to the second track with vocals to evaluate their slightly egotistical conclusion, only to find that it was indeed fact. "Breathturn" gave us a glimpse of how marvelous the vocals are, but "You Lost the Starlight in Your Eyes" is what drives it home. Its simple stanza unleashes incredibly powerful emotion with such a stellar delivery. The album comes together as a reflection on past experiences, regrets, and beginning to move forward. To be completely honest, I think this should have been the closing track because of the effect it has, but by no means are we left disappointed with "Something Other Than Remaining".
All considered, Chasing After Shadows…Living with the Ghosts is an album that flawlessly displays the feelings in its composition. Each track is beautifully crafted and deeply engaging, while at the same time very relaxing and relieving.