November 28, 2005

[ hammock ]

It is what it is,� Hammock says of its music. They’re not being evasive. Or flippant. This is just the best way to describe a gorgeous “accident� like Kenotic. It’s also the sound of two artists whose talent and commercial credentials have meant lots of trips to cherry-veneered conference tables, where “market share� and “cross-collateralization� are discussed and demographic profiles are dissected. Hammock is about the basement, not the boardroom. They had no presuppositions…no target genre…just pure, intuitive, impulsive music. And in that sense, it just “is�.

Marc Byrd and Andrew Thompson didn’t even know they were making a record. Kenotic, Hammock’s debut release, was created between production and songwriting projects over the course of two years. Once they started gathering up the recorded pieces, they realized that they had over 30 songs. They also noticed a consistent musical thread running between them. “Working in the studio and with other artists means you’re constantly bombarded with sound and distractions,� Byrd says. “That’s one reason why the music on this record turned out to be kind of soothing. We were cleansing ourselves from all the noise of the industry.�

But as the record began to unfold, the theme ran deeper. “It was the sound of the Southern landscape,� Byrd says. Thompson adds, “We were both born and raised in the wide-open, rural South. We were communicating space…not undefined, but uniquely Southern, space…mountains, stars, cropland, trees, endless sky and wide-open dirt roads.� “My nickname in Arkansas was ‘Marc Marc Marc’ because I used so much delay on my guitar,� Byrd says, laughing. “But this was just an attempt to capture what I felt and lived.� The landscape of the South is enigmatic; it is idyllic and picturesque, but desolate at the same time. “There are stretches everywhere that are nothing but miles of shacks and burned-out, overgrown barns,� Byrd says. “So we were expressing the melancholy of the South as well.�

It took a long time for all of these cultural influences and experiences to surface musically. “To be a lover of poetry, art and beauty growing up in the rural South, and to be comfortable with that, was often difficult,� Thompson says. “You feel like a bit of an alien,� Byrd adds. “And though we were constantly surrounded by incredible beauty, we were also constantly conflicted about expressing it.�

But in Hammock, they found their voice.

Out of this melding of music, passion, human experience, and wide-open spaces came a new soundscape inspired by stillness, beauty, and emptiness. And like the world outside – like the empty space within—this music – overflows with beauty and tension, heartbreak and hope. All equally abiding.


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