Album Reviews Hammock - Universalis

Published on 22nd December 2018

Hammock – Universalis


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The latest offering from the band who could easily have called themselves the Ennui of Despair (without so much as a smirk) proves yet again, that bands, especially post-rock bands, should focus on two things specifically: tunes and quality over quantity.

I appreciate that when I see a post-rock band has been watched 100,000 times on YouTube it actually means 1,000 fans have played it 100 times each and therefore a small hard core of aficionados have made a band seem considerably more popular than they are. Without die-hard fans, shit bands would be as popular as the fat ugly girl/boy singing Gloria Gaynor covers in your local pub.

In fact, for a second or two, let’s think about those fans. These are people who love guitar-based ethereal rafts of sound with sparse use of remote choral societies, a synthesizer that makes the room sound like it’s filled with an orchestra, labelled with song titles that put a finger on how most of them feel at any given time of the day (or night). The kind of people who easily forget what they were talking about mid-sentence and hope you feel as blissed-out as they do…

Who are they? Do they exist or are they just Russian constructs designed to bring the downfall of society through drudgery? I’ve not actually met another person who thinks as highly of post-rock as I do; at least this kind of interpretation/definition of post rock. It sometimes makes me wonder if this slightly befused state of thinkingness is deliberate or if it is actually my conscious mind trying to tell me that post-rock is simply the music generated by my skeleton. All of this and without the aid of drugs…

When you have to write/play music for that kind of person, you suddenly become acutely aware there are those kind of people in the world. It must either be some wonderful kind of joke or you’re as deluded as the people who like your stuff (if they indeed exist)…

[None of the following is accurate] This is Hammock’s 204th album since they started inventing song titles that were simply reworkings of “WHAT IS THE FUCKING POINT?” and “YOU’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!”

The band’s decision to release an album every time someone they know dies is both brave and foolhardy in not so equal measures. Being devout Christians [that bit is accurate] means the sixteen members of the band can play seedy bars during the day indulging in their love of Christian Death Metal and Choral Punk and return to their studio (a rotting former Presbyterian church in the grounds of Elvis’s Graceland) four times a week to compose and perform their bossa nova disco tunes which they then slow down to 35% of the original speed, thus creating two utterly diverse markets all listening to the same music.

What makes Universalis absolutely no different from any of Hammock’s previous 411 albums is it essentially a conceptual piece with the themes “WHAT IS THE FUCKING POINT?” and “YOU’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!” – which has always been a popular subject for the American duo during their journey from Point A to… er… Point A, via… um… Point A.



Track titles include: The Pointlessness Of Your Existence Makes My Hair Die, Oh God Why Am I Even Bothering to Breathe?, When You Die I’ll Feel Like Shit, I Thought Something Exciting Happened But It Was You Just Dying, The Sighing of the Earth As I Scatter Your Poorly Cremated Ashes…, yadda yadda yadda (is that a title too? Ed). Music that sounds like it has been written for the soundtrack of a really sad film about someone dying of rickets but played without the aid of Thomas Newman or an orchestra mixed with the incidental music from a science fiction series only the composers would watch.

It lacks aggression, direction, reason, ability to grow things on, tunes and imagination. It is the audio equivalent of synthesised farting; the kind you get after a lot of synthesised Guinness (and I mean A LOT).

It is estimated that on current evidence, Adele will release a total of seven albums before she either dies or gets bored and becomes a supermodel. On their current trajectory based on an algorithm which takes into account the people this gregarious band likes to meet, Hammock will release 2,607 albums before one of them is murdered. You should be fucking petrified, mate.

TRACK LISTING
01. Mouth to Dust… Waiting (4:26)
02. Scattering Light (4:47)
03. Universalis (5:28)
04. Cliffside (5:52)
05. Always Before Your Eyes (4:26)
06. We Are More Than We Are (4:34)
07. Tether of Yearning (4:48)
08. Clothed With Sky (2:46)
09. Thirst (6:27)
10. We Watched You Disappear (5:54)
11. Tremendum (6:07)

Total Time – 55:38

ADDITIONAL INFO
Record Label: Independent
Country of Origin: U.S.A.
Date of Release: 7<supth December 2018

MUSICIANS
Marc Byrd – Guitars, Orchestras, Stuff With Knobs, Ambient Congas, Post-Rock Waffle Iron
Andrew Thompson – Grunge Drums, Emerson-like Keyboards, Bass, FX, Wibbly Stuff With Knobs, Caustic Wit & Flange
~ With:
Baeho “Bobby” Shin – String Transcriptions & Additional Arrangements
Christine Glass Byrd – Angelic Vocals
Matt Kidd – Additional Keys (tracks 4 & 8)
Ken Lewis – Drums & Percussion (tracks 2,4,6 & 9)

LINKS
Hammock – Website | Facebook | Bandcamp

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