Arriving so soon after last year’s mammoth and wonderful double, Departure Songs comes Oblivion Hymns, the next phase, the continuation. Hammock’s ambient style of post-rock barely creeps above a crawl, it sprawls though, it unfolds, each piece connected to the one either side, the album a journey that neither starts nor finishes, just an hour in the heads and hands of Hammock; an hour away from the world’s dilemmas and in their care.
There’s fragments of Eno (Shored Against The Ruins…Drowning In Ten Directions), there are moments here (I Could Hear The Water At The Edge of All Things) that make it obvious why this duo could respectfully – perfectly – remix Rhian Sheehan. There’s the sound of Helios reworking Lustmord (My Mind Was A Fog…My Heart Became A Bomb) or is it the other way around (Then The Quiet Explosion) and there’s something in tracks like I could Hear The Water and In The Middle of This Nowhere that gets to similar places as Max Richter. But Hammock still has that post-rock atmosphere attached, as if Eno was charged with flattening out, beautifying the music of Tortoise; as if Jakob’s sonics were stretched into a new form of classical music, via soundtracks and soundscapes taking in a new form of choral music.
It’s impossible to think of Oblivion Hymns as an album, really. Because it doesn’t deserve comparison to anything else. It’s a stretch of space – a musical shade cloth, a safe place. A beautiful, haunting, moving, profound artistic experience.
It’s art for the ears – an installation, a soundtrack to provide the mind space to wander and take in images, or check out of this world for a charming, hypnotic 57 minutes.
When I choose the right time to play this – and somehow, so far, it’s always chosen me – it’s one of the finest things I’ve heard this year. Or any.
Less a case of music, more so a case of magic. Bottled, turned on its side. You can see the ship still sailing.