Dash Hammerstein is a composer and songwriter in New York City, churning out documentary scores, ambient song cycles and traditional psych-folk albums. ‘Goodbye Old Horse,’ of which ‘Silence, Memory’ is the first single, is his eighth LP.
Upon first hearing ‘Silence, Memory,’ I was immediately reminded of The Beach Boys ‘Pet Sounds’. Hammerstein makes excellent use of vocal riffs like ‘do-do’ and ‘m-ba-ba’ that anyone familiar with Brian Wilson will recognize. These vocal riffs add texture underneath the verses but are absent from the chorus, which allows for a very different atmosphere, ‘Silence contains / The sound from which / All life springs / Is anyone listening?’
To begin, the sound of running water prefigures the opening lines of the verse, ‘See the river running shallow / I walk downstream’. A quiet backdrop field- recording of the humming of Earth’s heart (insects, water, etc.) carries on as an acoustic guitar makes a quick and rustically charming entrance, shortly followed by a hand drum. Little piano riffs come in and finish where vocal melodies leave off. It sounds very bright, buoyant, and fun, but there are moments of sadness as well. Layered vocals and harmonies increasingly abound as the song progresses to exponential success! There’s a beautiful string part in the latter half that delicately retains its singularity even as it merges with and supports the vocals. A plethora of other little surprising and delightful touches and details which I have not mentioned here add even greater scope and variety to the song.
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