Doug Hammer is back with a brand new album
entitled Melancholia and this is an
album, that like it or not, speaks to us all as we scramble to get every ounce
out of the day, and as much as we can from each breath we take. Here the artist
explores the dark realms of life’s rich and turbulent patterns, and it is us,
the ever eager listener, who gets to travel these candle lit corridors with the
Here is an album that touches our hearts and souls, and
flirts with our imaginations, for each moment passes like a feather in the wind
on an October day, and is then gone, on Darkness
Falls we find that truth speaking loudly to us, and even more enticing and
real that the raven at the end of Poe’s bed, a sombre but honest beginning
indeed, one that contains a splendid build and progression within.
The following piece really reminds me of early Harold Budd and his work with Eno on Ambient 4 from way back in the early 80’s, this is a tremendous
creation from Hammer, one that manifests acres of ambience to just flow and
enjoy, the lightness of touch allows us to create our own realities as we
listen to the offering, The Long Night.
The following musical narrative created a somewhat European
feel for me, perhaps even one from a long distant past, when films were black
and white and silent. Here Hammer brings us a track entitled Long Ago, which seems very appropriate,
and from the keys we can see the ghosts of two dancers still swaying to the
rhythm of a long dead time, caught in the residual pathways of forevermore
The older we live, the more we rely on our memories, sadly
the more we think, the more dangerous it can be, as we can get pulled into
moments in time that contain regret or sadness, and nothing can be achieved
from that. Within Just A Memory,
this is an opportunity to examine those thoughts, dark or otherwise, Hammer
once more produces a moving onward opus of a piano piece, one that is as
fragile as the memory itself, a touching performance indeed, one that drifts
quietly to an end, like life itself.
It is interesting that today I have reviewed two very
reflective solo piano albums, this one even more so, and here on this next
track a different memory came to light, as 12 days before I was born, the
Soviet Union launched a dog into space called Laika. Now I’m wondering if this song could be about this memory,
this event, long passed and gone into the bin of time, but never the less, a
crafted performance indeed.
That European motif is certainly strong and even more so on
this creation called Monsieur Barre's
Carousel. This is a timeless performance by Hammer, one that moves into a
circular journey with the carousel, and gifts us a performance that still
hovers in the winds of yesterday.
As we reach the half way marker on the album we come across a
soft, yet reflective composition called Empty
Chair, that chair used to contain the energy of one no longer, and is now
just a chair, but the memories still flow like rivers across deep vales of
contemplation, a delicate presentation by Hammer indeed.
The following musical tale is a haunting arrangement entitled
Missing You, I had several of those
moments the other week whilst Chrissie was thousands of miles away from me, but
thankfully she returned home, There are many who from our lives are gone
forever, but that doesn’t stop us from missing them, and here Hammer creates
the perfect soundtrack for that very segment in time, one filled to the brim
with an emotional performance.
Dancing Alone is a moving piece, quite sad in its
overall structure, but a piece that illustrates the lost, the loves passed, and
the emptiness inside, this is Hammer drawing a creative tale of a single person
simply still dancing with the memories of happy days long since departed, this
is without doubt one of the most heartfelt and powerful pieces off the release.
One of the hardest things we all have to master is the art of
Letting Go, it wasn’t until I
understood this, that I was truly able to move on. Doug Hammer always has the potential of producing absolute classics,
and I believe that on this mournful and desolate piece he has done it again,
the delicacy of presentation is sublime, but be ready for the actual letting
go, and the march onwards with fresh energy into a brand new life moment, a
truly masterful composition indeed.
The dark corners of our lives are haunted by the slowing down
of our very existence, and on Winding
Down we have a piece that is almost as expressive as the actual moment
itself. We are as melodic as ever, but sands still drift from one half of the
glass into the other. A pristine performance can be heard here by a pianist,
one who is clearly in touch with his emotional musical muse.
The penultimate track off this album stands before us and is
called Almost Midnight, time speeds
up the older you get, and the more you try and hold onto a moment, the more you
wish for the hands on the clock to stop, but the quicker they seem to go. On
this last but one offering we can almost hear that in the presentation, a
change in speed, a juxtaposition of time versus reality in a quite stunning
Our last port of call is an arrangement entitled Farewell; this sombre conclusion to a
moving album sums up the entire project, with a suggestion that the entire
creation of this album may well have been a cathartic journey for the artist, a
wonderfully respectful and warm way with which to finish from the artist.
We live our lives in a sequence of moments, some happy, some
sad, some even carry an energy of ambivalence, but here in this creative and
artistic endeavour Doug Hammer has
pretty much covered all the bases on this his new album Melancholia. Here is an album that is like a scrapbook of memories,
and each and every crafted track upon this 13 piece album is taken, birthed,
lived and felt with great emotion by the musician, a must have indeed for all
fans of solo piano.