Film At 11: Hammock

More than a decade ago, Iceland’s Sigur Rós brought classically influenced experimental music to the global stage. In 2003, Texas’ Explosions In The Sky perpetuated the interest in a related genre—”post-rock”—when their third LP, The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place, became an unlikely hit across several, seemingly disparate, demographics. (The impact of that album can still be felt, of course, every week during NBC’s high-school football drama Friday Night Lights.) But the truth is, the big tent that encapsulates “modern classical,” “ambient,” “experimental,” “home listening” and the like has been producing phenomenal, nay visionary, artists long before Sigur Rós and long since. Nashville’s Hammock is one of those artists. Since 2004, the veteran duo of Marc Byrd and Andrew Thompson has released four albums of transcendent and lush ambient music, each uniquely a comment on life’s impermanence. At times, this entails the spartan simplicity of two guitars emulating the astral reaches; at others, drums, keys and strings make for a more present, enveloping listen. The band’s latest, Chasing After The Shadows… Living With The Ghosts (Hammock Music), is a near-perfect marriage of the two modes, earning it high praise from the BBC, Pitchfork, NPR and elsewhere. It’s not just the British press that’s paying attention across the pond, either: Radiohead drummer Phil Selway reportedly became a fan in recent months after attending a screening of “Breathturn” (below) at this year’s L.A. Film Festival. The video, directed by David Altobelli, is a wistfully gorgeous adaption of Hammock’s persistent invocation of hope and redemption. Indeed, Selway was so impressed that he commissioned Altobelli to depict his own single, “By Some Miracle,” in one of the most visually striking videos we’ve seen all year. That’s not bad company to keep.