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Hammock - Silencia CD (album) cover




Post Rock/Math rock

5.00 | 3 ratings

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5 stars Hammock, a post/math rock progressive band from Nashville, is, at it's core, made up of the duo of guitarists Marc Byrd and Andrew Thompson, both originally from the band "Common Children". The duo first got together to do informal recordings and had no intention on releasing these recordings, at first anyway. But when their collection reached 40 recordings, they decided to form Hammock. They released their first 2 albums in 2005 along with an EP in the same year. In 2007, they gave their first live performance to honor an artistic collaboration between Jonsi Birgisson (Sigur Ros) and Alex Somers (a graphic designer) for the pair's first exhibition outside of Iceland.

In November of 2019, the duo released their 12th full length album, "Silencia". Over the years, they have incorporated different artists and orchestras/choirs in several of their albums. Their music is considered post rock, but they actually center their style of music around the more ambient aspect of the sub-genre. That is also the case with this album, which also features the 20-piece Budapest Art Choir. "Silencia" makes up the final part of a trilogy of albums (consisting of "Mysterium", "Universalis" and this one "Silencia") that is made up of music inspired by the works of Arvo Part and Georgy Sviridov and the American poet Li Young Li. According to Byrd, "Mysterium was about a shattering. Universalis, the trilogy's second record, was an attempt to put things back together, and Silencia reflects a quiet resolution of knowing this is what life is. You have to live in the midst of both."

Right from the beginning, the album begins with a slow, mostly orchestral build. The strings and muted horns work together on a long, slow crescendo which reaches it's peak about halfway through and then decrescendos back to the end. It's slow and pensive, never reaching a level of loudness or heaviness, just a swell of the music, peaceful and lovely. "Silencia" makes a soft, layered yet quiet beginning, with the very soft strains of an almost vocal quality deep in the background. A cello comes in and takes the lead over the textured background. The music is slow, serene and reflective, a feeling of resolution. By giving this music your attention, you will find yourself lost inside of its beauty. There are layers of soft strings that join in later. These textured orchestral parts of strings and horns were orchestrated by conductor and violinist Viktor Orri Amason in Hungary, where the instruments were tracked using 30 vintage microphones. "When it Hurts to Remember" continues this soft and flowing sound, letting the orchestra ebb and flow softly along with a light, airy drone that uses variable tones swirling around underneath. There is a slight crescendo as the track moves peacefully forward. Think of Sigur Ros without the vocals and with less harshness or sudden dynamic changes, the dynamics are slow and gradual, left to build more naturally.

"Afraid to Forget" is the first point in which the choir becomes evident as their soft harmonies move in slowly like the layered drones, sounding like an angelic choir singing far off in the distance. As they repeat a 8 note motif of sustained notes. Low string bass finally comes in and soon after, the strings echo the same motif along with the choir, and the music slowly builds. If you are listening closely, the music will penetrate your soul. After 5 minutes, the music backs away from the motif as it uses sustained notes to bridge to a viola solo, again playing slowly and pensively.

It is difficult to describe adequately as some tracks and passages can defy description, the only way to understand them is to experience them. The entire album moves in this manner, beautiful orchestral swells and textural passages. Occasional melodies come out of the textured layers. The music is exactly what they purport it to be, the exploration of the ambient and quiet side of post rock music. It is all well developed and appropriate for relaxation, but it also has a lot of compositional value to it also, not just meandering sounds, but lovely orchestral arrangements with the quietness of subtle guitar, violin and piano motifs and textures. It's all quite ethereal, dreamy and lovely, probably the best ambient album I've heard all year. That's all you need to expect here, no loud noise or heavily layered climaxes, just lush and peaceful sound.

TCat | 5/5 |


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