As promotional item or as artistic accompaniment, Hammock’s Raising Your Voice…Trying to Stop an Echo arrived at Treble coupled with three still photographs: one daytime shot of a series of tubes, one dusk shot of the same tubes, and one of a man floating on his back in the water, wearing what appears to be the same jacket that appears stiff and upright, repeatedly on the album’s cover. On their own, these photos are stunning in their own right (which, according to liner notes are by Thomas Petillo), but seem to make even more sense when viewed in accordance to the actual music. Hammock, a duo consisting of Andrew Thompson and Marc Byrd, makes the sonic equivalent of these desolate, yet oddly compelling visuals—nakedly powerful, beautiful and stark.
Hammock isn’t so much a rock band, though they do have rock songs. And they’re not so much an ambient group, though much of their music is just that. Byrd and Thompson make music that exists somewhere between these realms, evoking moods with a minimum of activity. Waves of glimmering Cocteau Twins-like guitar traverse over barren landscapes, twinkling like nearby constellations. It is at once distant and extremely joyous, a life affirming, yet somehow Zen-like expression of mood and of depth. Many of these tracks are content not to move beyond ambient waves of sound, but some instrumentals like “The House Where We Grew Up” are practically epics in ethereality, their closest sonic reference point being Sigur Rós’s spacious glacial majesty of ( ).
At times, however, Hammock is reminiscent of Disintegration era Cure, albeit without as many of the vocals. “Floating Away in Every Direction” has that sort of glimmering, sad Robert Smith guitar with much of the same epic power, but instrumental, of course. Byrd and Thompson find ways to add more rock leaning structures to their work, however, beginning with the title track, a dense shoegazer track that’s as gorgeous as it is thick with guitar effects. Meanwhile “…Like Starlight Into Day” builds an echoing, somewhat ominous melody into a melancholy, effects-laden symphony. Yet “Shipwrecked (Flat on Your Back)” is a little lighter, organs and guitar drones gliding into gentle, ambient pop. That these few tracks exist creates a fine break within the lengthy album (70+ minutes). It’s a lot to take in, and each minute is profoundly emotive and heartbreaking. Hammock may require patience, but those who possess it will be rewarded in spades.
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.