Hammock – Chasing After Shadows… Living with the Ghosts

Hammock - Chasing After Shadows... Living with the Ghosts

If there’s a band worthy of an album title like Chasing After Shadows… Living with the Ghosts, it’s Nashville’s Hammock. Past records like Kenotic (2005), Raising Your Voice… Trying to Stop an Echo (2006), and Maybe They Will Sing for Us Tomorrow (2008) were post-rock records that didn’t provide answers so much as a search, a query into the ability of music to transcend simple sound to express something simultaneously solemn and blissful. The duo, Marc Byrd and Andrew Thompson, seem in pursuit of something illusory–like shadows or ghosts, perhaps–divining well enough to commit some of the most hypnotic creations of recent times to tape. We may never be able to see the dreams of others, but it seems we can damn well come close to hearing them.

Maybe They Will Sing for Us Tomorrow was an austere affair even by ambient standards; rhythm and excessive ornamentation excised in favor of simply guitars and effects pedals, the result being a engrossing, ambiguous haze of an album. Chasing feels a bit like a sequel to that record, though the gauzy impenetrableness has waned and Hammock’s sound is captured in a remarkable bloom. Here, drums, strings, horns, and the occasional human voice labor together to develop a more complete sound. Over the years, the band has garnered many comparisons to post-rock architects Sigur Rós, and while one often catches glimpses of the same  breed of slow-burning atmospherics on Chasing (especially in the otherworldly cooing of “Breathturn”, an album highlight) that you’d expect to find on a record like Takk or Ágætis byrjun, it’s almost as though Hammock exist a stratum away from such acts, hanging abstract like the ethereal afterglow of the entire post-rock movement.

I had called their previous record a “companion piece to a breathing exercise.” Chasing, in its endless calm, feels like one in its own right; most bands would be lucky to record something even a fraction as tranquil as Hammock’s current offering. The album is available from their store as a deluxe photobook with exclusive EP (picture here), a regular digipak, and a digital download.