New Amsterdam Records has announced Negative Space, the debut full-length from No Lands, the recording project of Brooklyn-based electronic musician and sound artist Michael Hammond. No Lands has also revealed “City,” a track from Negative Space. “This song was written about a life-altering phone call, in which I found out some devastating news,” Hammond said about the track. “It’s about leaving a place, mentally and physically, and realizing you can never go back.”
As a sound designer, producer, and programmer, Hammond has fostered a lifelong obsession with sound. Growing up in West Tennessee in the 90s, Hammond first began his recording experiments on the family desktop computer, printing his sprawling opuses on CD-Rs and pushing the limits of primitive processors.
Later, Hammond spent time creating custom music software and soldering together speakers in a search for new sounds. Studying with visionary composer and instrument builder Dan Trueman, Hammond further honed his technical craft. On Negative Space, some of these tools are employed, along with an arsenal of guitars, vintage synthesizers, drum machines, and processed vocals to create pristine and enveloping sound worlds.
When performing live, Hammond is joined by these musicians. The four-piece becomes a digital hive mind of wires and devices, with each individual’s vocals and instruments filtered through the central brain of Hammond’s computer.
In visual art, the concept of negative space refers to the areas around and between the subject of a work of art. The auditory equivalent of negative space is not immediately apparent. Is it silence (as John Cage might conceive of it)? Or maybe noise? On Negative Space, No Lands plumbs the depths of these questions with a patience and intensity that is rare. Ultimately, the album is a document of this obsessive relationship with both sound and song, the genesis of which spans the course of three years and a hurricane.
Negative Space consists of 9 sonic environments that range from ambient soundscapes to sprawling song structures. The album drifts from one environment to the next as if navigating a dream state. Swirling digital textures give way momentarily to tightly arranged songs. Some tracks are cut off abruptly and swallowed whole (see the end of “Pretender” or “City“) while others transfix the listener into a deep hypnosis (“Sleep Atlas”).
Much of the music for Negative Space was written and recorded following a period of itinerancy in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. The flood swept through Hammond’s apartment and studio space in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn and leaked a particular feeling of unease and rootlessness into his music. The watery world that displaced him became a renewed object of fascination, kindling a nascent obsession with all things aquatic.
Negative Space tracklist:
9. Outside of You
No Lands upcoming shows