If you were to ask me what my favourite moment on 'Universalis' is, I wouldnâ€™t have an answer. I couldnâ€™t have an answer.
Universalis, and Hammock by extension, offer a sort of oceanic, dreamlike post-rock you canâ€™t just put a pin in. Bands like Godspeed have their crescendos and their movements of searing, calamitous instrumentation - Hammock are a prettier type of white noise.
Universalis clocks in at just under an hour long, positioning it as one of the longer releases Iâ€™ve heard this year, as well as the most ambient and layered. There are occasionally hints of traditional structure. Tracks like â€˜We Are More Than We Areâ€™ are more recognisably musical, though nonetheless meditative and conciliatory. If anything, Universalisâ€™ choral ebbs and flows are let down by the jarring transitions between tracks. The album doesnâ€™t peak or lose momentum, but it does drop off in fits and starts, making an otherwise relaxing experience feel a bit like listening to an album out of order. Maybe years of perfectly-tuned gapless playback on prog and ambient music has spoiled me, but I tend to prefer a more seamless experience
Sonically, it swims between harmonious and tenebrous. If â€˜Always Before Your Eyesâ€™ is a cathedral, then â€˜Tremendumâ€™ is the warning of a storm on the horizon. Perhaps the best way to describe Universalisâ€™ high points is cinematic. More than once, I was reminded of Gladiator, of Maximus dreaming his way through the fields, crops running through his splayed fingers.
Itâ€™s this film-like quality that sets Universalis apart from the other post-rock releases of 2018. The music itself is not as potent as I would have liked, but I find myself thinking about the experience itself quite a bit. Thereâ€™s something to be said for the entire package of ambient music, and Universalis leans hard on your ability to disappear into sound.