Nashville, Tennessee’s Hammock returns. Mysterium is the duo’s eighth and latest album. The record serves as memorial to Clark Kern, son-like figure to Hammock, who died in 2016. An hour-long album of modern classical flavours, contemplative ambient and choral music from the Budapest Art Choir. For fans of Richter and Johannsson. 2LP + CD in gatefold on Hammock Music, insert with art by Pete Schulte.
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Mysterium opens with angelic choral voices enveloping the space around my ears. Tumbling, falling, rising. Swooning strings sweep in to echo and bolster still further the emotional impact. This won’t be a light listening experience, but then nor ought it be. The album was made as a memorial to friend and son-like figure to the band, Clark Kern. Kern died in 2016 of a tumour, at twenty years of age.
Marc Byrd and Andrew Thompson of Hammock have been working together since 2003, making their sound collages and drawing in strands from modern classical, ambient and post-rock to fuse together an end result that blurs the lines between such definitions of genre. Definitions which have ceased to have any real meaning outside of their own right, anyway. Track two, ‘Things of Beauty Burn’, features stately strings and muted horns recalling both Max Richter and Sigur Ros. Then the heavenly voices of Budapest Art Choir re-emerge from the mists: “Agnus Dei, Agnus Dei -- I will wait, I will stay…” It’s a deeply sad and moving piece of music.
Byrd and Thompson are both fans of Brian Eno and Pink Floyd, and it shows -- a lone guitar figure or a gentle piano will often come to the fore, shimmering and bathed in its own subtle light; a rare illuminatory beacon in a murky hinterworld of mutating string shapes. Then the softly radiant voices of the choir become iridescent and make me weep, again. A record to file alongside recent works by Johann Johannson, Richter and A Winged Victory For The Sullen.
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