CD Review: Hammock – Departure Songs

I don’t normally do music reviews. In fact, this is my first one ever, but when you encounter something as meaningful and personal as Hammock, it tends to make you want to sing its praises from the mountaintops.

A brief history: 2006 was the roughest year of my life, and many of my days were spent in solitude with nothing more than my thoughts to pass the time. It was during that time that I stumbled across Hammock’s Raising Your Voice… Trying to Stop an Echo. One listen was all it took, and my musical horizons had been forever changed.

Hammock’s music is nearly impossible to describe. I could throw about a hundred adjectives out there, but none of which would ever feel like the perfect encapsulation. Dreamy. Hypnotic. Beautiful. Life-changing. None of those are incorrect, yet they fail to do the music justice.

Though a bit simple, I summarize my experience with Hammock as follows: I have listened to music my entire life, but it wasn’t until after I discovered Hammock that I actually heard it.

Back in July, Hammock released a video from their upcoming album for a song called “Tape Recorder.” I must have watched the video fifty times, never growing tired of it. As gorgeous as Hammock’s music has always been, I had never found myself as immersed in sound as I did with “Tape Recorder.” I feel no shame in admitting that it brought me to tears.

That brings us to October 2nd, 2012, when Hammock released their latest offering, an epic double album titled Departure Songs. Clocking in at nearly two full hours of ambient bliss, Hammock continues to do what they do best, and yet, seem to evolve with every album. Each time I think that they can’t get any better, they prove me wrong, and I’m elated to be.

Hammock set a new benchmark with 2010’s Chasing After Shadows… Living with the Ghosts, but Departure Songs blows right on past it without apology. Tracks such as “Ten Thousand Years Won’t Save Your Life,” “Together Alone,” “Pathos,” “(Leaving) The House Where We Grew Up,” and “Hiding But Nobody Missed You” are immediate standouts, but there isn’t a dull track anywhere to be found. In fact, the album is so coated in complex eardrum pleasing layers that your favorite tracks will most definitely change between your first listen and your seventh.

Departure Songs is less an album and more an emotional exploration. It will make your heart both sink and swell over the course of its duration. Your mind’s eye will get an extended workout as the textures of sound hit your temporal lobe with the force of a mack truck and bring serene images to life.

If you are new to the splendor that is Hammock, Departure Songs is an incredible place to start, full of nineteen rich and tasty morsels that are slowly digested over multiple listens. If you’re like me, you’ll wonder why it had taken so long to find them, and immediately seek out their other recordings (which is money well spent, I might add).

If you are already a Hammock fan, then there is nothing I’ve said in this review that you didn’t already know, and you are well aware of their brilliance. In which case, I thank you for reading any way. 🙂

This review is rather wordy, but the bottom line is this: If you have not yet purchased Departure Songs, you should. If you’re not sure whether or not their music is right for you, then I strongly encourage you to listen to some samples and find out. Hammock could very well be the same musical awakening for you that they were for me.

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