Everything and Nothing
The consistently excellent Hammock are back with Everything and Nothing. For Hammock, Everything and Nothing is an album that spreads its hands wide to encompass two beautiful extremes. They push the music to the limits – and past the limits – of where it’s gone before.
Glowing guitars, their crisp-but-blurred notes floating in the breeze, link arms with a gorgeous, inspiring set of vocals, but this time a driving, propulsive percussion, strong enough to be different, is introduced to the mix, giving the music even more of an ethereal edge that borders the mouth-watering shores of shoegaze without ever sacrificing or losing its cinematic ambient / post-rock feeling that has, since the beginning, defined their music. On ‘Clarity’, the guitars are a bit rougher, a bit grittier and a little more substantial, which in turn lends the music more energy. It’s just as if the reclined music’s suddenly downed a large glass of Lucozade. ‘Glassy Blue’ slows things down, its structure like that of an ambient pop song with its repeating, ghostly chorus and its shimmering melodic lines contributing to the haze. And a lot of the tracks do come across as having a definite ABAB form, or, failing that, a repeating chorus. The track is the bright blue of the summer sky, open and inviting. The reverb simultaneously smears and softens the music, acting as a windbreaker against Everything and Nothing’s stronger currents of air.
The wet reverb is more like a pool than a puddle. And there are softer, more introspective moments that arrive as soon as the piano on ‘Marathon Boy’ starts to play. Hammock’s music always has a scent for the bigger things in life – they hint at wider things beyond our current level of understanding or comprehension, of the stars in the night sky and the galaxies swirling over our heads. Their music glows with a shy sense of spectacle, a quiet, unfolding drama made all the more powerful in a world that shouts for attention. Special memories and cherished moments blend in with more colourful, sugary highs this time around. Unexpectedly, there are elements of shoegaze inside, but the sweeping, air-cleansing instrumental sound still lies at the heart of the music. The pedalboards are immense and as wide as a blue sky absent of clouds, the volume swelling and then swirling in an ephemeral soundscape that has the capability to chug at the same time. But on ‘Wasted We Stared at the Ceiling’, softer curves enter the music, the vocals wrapped up in seductive layers of delay and distortion. Carefree, blissed-out memories, bleary Saturday mornings and after-school parties are reminisced through the music, but it’s also a reflection on a period that can never be repeated. There’s also something of the present moment in their music, of just being. It’s mindfulness in music. Nothing else matters, because with the flutter of an eyelid a single moment fades away and a new one begins. That’s all there ever has been, and that’s all there ever will be. ‘We Were So Young’ is a celebratory anthem of youth and friendship, sparkling effervescently with a liberal amount of energy as its louder music rocks out. It’s the sound of freedom itself, of the sun never setting.
The silky feminine vocals float through the air with a beautiful transparency, the very being of the music glowing in the light of the sun. ‘Unspoken’ and ‘Before You Float Away Into Nothing’ tail the music off. As if carried on the two wings of a bird, the music flies away. Regarding the genre tag, it doesn’t really matter. The sound is immense – Everything and Nothing is probably their best release to date, and that’s saying something. They’ll take your breath away again.