Although musicians doubtlessly become more talented and experienced over the years, they often stay fairly stable in terms of style. Iron & Wine consistently records sobering folk tunes, just as Kid Cudi predictably releases rap of a certain type. While it is not surprising for an artist to experiment with different genres or even to radically transition from one music scene to another (see Taylor Swift’s move from country singer to mainstream pop performer), rarely does one demonstrate consistent evolution across their career.
This rare categorization holds true from Hammock, a duo out of Nashville, TN. A collaboration between two guitarists, Hammock produces most of their own music through their private label, Hammock Music. What makes them noteworthy isn’t just talent. They are explorers of a wide range of styles and methods that fall under the heading of post-rock and ambient music. Unlike country or jazz, which tend to have fairly firm guidelines behind their composition, ambient and post-rock emerged out of a desire to expand the boundaries of existing genres. They don’t set themselves apart with new instruments or unheard-of conventions, but with exploration and creativity with what already exists.
For many post-rock artists, their music is generally an extension of metal, relying more on well-crafted guitar parts than on lyrics. Yet the overlap with ambient music is of great importance for musicians who follow the same path as Hammock. In addition to the structures that already exist in rock and its offshoots, ambient methodology revolves around breaking free of expected confines for any given song, exploring the possibilities of layered instrumentals and unusual pairings, such as orchestral elements with heavy percussion. Like ambience itself, the genre seems to float ethereally, practically hovering around us as we listen.
Hammock’s journey, now in its eleventh year, is one that has enabled them to combine these two schools in myriad ways. In their earlier recordings, they tended to rely more on guitar sounds, albeit ones they played around with and distorted in various directions. As they have progressed in more recent years, they have begun adding all kinds of new dimensions to their music, including orchestral arrangements and children’s choirs. Like a painter leaving art school who takes their experience and pioneers a whole new style, so have Hammock used their origins in guitar-based post-rock to strive towards the limitless possibilities that music offers.