Eleven albums into a career, you would have thought any band would be set with their sound, and either be busy working on refining it, or pumping out album after album, filled with trademark tunes, each sounding the same as each album before the newest.
Many bands have rested on this statement, with a handful of now decades old bands churning out album after album of the same stale sound they were pushing out years, if not decades before. I could list them, but I won’t, I know that the ‘classic’ bands, and their elitist fans will only end up getting offended, and that isn’t the purpose for this review.
The purpose of this review however is to push forward a band who, even after eleven albums, are still taking chances, at each new turn, to create simply phenomenal music. That band is Hammock, a band who believe that Love In The Void is their ‘loudest album to date, embracing daring and vulnerability’. Quite a statement indeed, but after having known of the band for a good few years now, it’s not entirely surprising, considering that a fair amount of their previous work is based on ambience and sonic textures.
To give some context of Hammock, sound wise, if you aim somewhere in the ballpark of shoegaze, dream pop, and ambient post-rock, you aren’t too far off.
Trying to define Hammock’s sound, by drawing comparison musically, is, in itself, quite hard, as what Hammock do, is pretty much within their own unique sound. I have read several lists of who they get lumped in with, but I’m still left unsure if the ‘similar’ bands are entirely ‘similar’. To throw a couple of names into the ring, I saw Sigur Ros and God Is An Astronaut. Both of whom are incredible, but I don’t think either overly serve as a good benchmark really, and I think I’m still left with the opinion that Hammock is their own little niche completely.
Taking Love In The Void, on its own merit, is to act as if all of Hammock’s back catalogue, for the time being, is a different bands output. That way, I can give you my experience, and even if you already know Hammock, hopefully, this will reignite something within you, to search them out, and give this new material a try, with fresh eyes, and an open heart.
Love In The Void is thirteen tracks of absolute hypnotic bliss. It won’t have you headbanging yourself into a sore neck, and nor will it be car fodder blasting through the speakers. Having tried both, I can certify that this is completely true. What it will do, however, is have you completely transfixed with its majesty. It will warm your soul, while simultaneously take you away to a different plane of existence entirely.
Procession opens the album, and unlike most other releases where they hit you with a strong and upbeat first track, here it’s a slow, sombre introduction, warm yet oppressive, which gently rolls in Love In The Void, as if preparing you for the journey to come.
Love In The Void is thirteen tracks of absolute hypnotic bliss…
Love In The Void, track two, sets the journey off. A gradual ambient drum, interspersed with a gentle guitar, set the mood. It has a charm to it that feels comforting. It’s both captivating, and all consuming, and it’s this feeling which runs through the entirety of the whole album.
Tracks such as It’s OK To Be Afraid Of The Universe, and I Would Stare Into The Sun With You Forever both have a subtle richness, which forces you to stop and listen. Not at all heavy, but with an intensity that makes it impossible to turn away. The sheer texture of sounds is so powerful, it almost feels like it’s an experience you can touch and hold.
Gods Becoming Memories is, as a juxtaposition, darker and more pensive in mood. There’s a deeper intensity here. Throughout the whole piece, it drifts between a slow passive breeze, and a far more intense quickening, where both guitar and drum become more erratic too. The inclusion of the piano is a welcome layer, and it really helps to break up the light with the dark.
Over the course of the whole album I am enraptured completely, and so to find one defining moment is nye on impossible. If pushed though, I would say a snapshot of Love In The Void, something to tease you with, then Denial Of Endings would be that moment.
As it opens, it hits the ground running at the right pace. The vocal is ethereal and pushes firmly into shoegaze, with its otherworldly feel, while concurrently the ambient soundtrack solidifies those iconic vibes. At times, I even forget who I am enjoying, as the mix of male and female vocals takes me off roaming towards Slowdive. It’s a luxurious piece, and truly captures that floaty, otherworldly bliss which is the benchmark of shoegaze.
By the time The End Is The Beginning rolls around to close the album, a deep fulfilment in my soul has been achieved, and as this hypnotic piece takes its time to evolve, every second is sheer bliss.
While these words may give you some insight into Love In The Void, they don’t truly capture the experience. Sometimes all you can do is stop, listen, and find the beauty for yourself, and with Hammock, specifically Love In The Void, it transcends beyond mere words, and into a feeling, an experience, which defies any turn of phrase that would truly capture the encounter.
Scribed by: Lee Beamish