Strange Ways: my follow up to my descent into psychdelic dream pop, from a history of ambient instrumental.

by Daniel Hammond / Impossible Machines

Strange Ways: my follow up to my descent into psychdelic dream pop, from a history of ambient instrumental. by Daniel Hammond / Impossible MachinesThis is the 7th album I’ve released – the follow up to its twin, On The Way. I’ve largely made ambient, electronic-esque music. My first 5 releases were instrumental. On The Way and As A Kite mark a shift towards pop songwriting for me. I would love to talk at length about what I’ve learned about music from making it and recording at home in my laundry room over the years, but I think for brevity’s sake it would be best to keep the conversation to this one album. I hope if you like what you hear that you will explore my older works as well, and find some value in my story and my music, and I hope I can reciprocate something for you. That’s all this is about in the end anyway, isn’t it?

Listen to the album while reading the text.

So a few years ago, I wrote and recorded an album called On The Way. I’ve been making music for half my life, I’m 36, most of it has been ambient electronic with some acoustic guitar mixed in here and there. On the other hand, I’ve always had a love for the guitar, and particularly shoegazing. Growing up in the southeastern US, in the 80’s and 90s, My Bloody Valentine was as good as marijuana to me. Like many other people, and understandably so, Loveless was an about-face epiphany of what was possible with music to me. I’ve always wanted to dip my feet into pop songwriting, so this is it, part two. I’ll give you a song by song breakdown, but I want to suggest also listening to the previous album On The Way.

As A Kite…

Strange Ways.
On The Way was mostly about death. As A Kite is more about life, but I didn’t mean for either to be that way, it just became that on its own. I actually wrote this song for On The Way, but it didn’t fit somehow. I’m glad it worked out that way because I think it’s a good first song for this album, and a good transition from the last, thematically. Essentially the song is about death, and starting over again, and living in circles. This song comes back to me in a circular way too – which of course is strange – as my personal life at the time of recording it and then releasing it has brought me full circle to a place from where I once began… It is the first song I wrote for both projects, and the last song I recorded for this album.

The Dream Lives On.
I wrote this song about a decade ago, it’s had a few different variations and versions. A Reprise of this actually appears on my album The Deep End. I felt like it fit in perfectly with these songs, so I re-recorded it for consistency and included it. The song was written when I was deeply depressed and recovering from surgery after an accident, on prescription painkillers and confined to a small apartment for about two months. I was playing around with my acoustic and looking out a window when I noticed a woman jogging down my street (in an affluent downtown neighborhood), passing underneath an American flag. The scene kind of struck me, and I sarcastically said out loud to myself “the dream lives on,” and then wrote the entire song right then and there. The lyrics have fluctuated, but I’m happy with what I’ve done here. The song is about the so-called American Dream and the insular, exclusive world in which it is played out in reality.

A Tall White Fountain.
This song title is a reference to Blade Runner 2049. The song is about wanting to believe that someone is out there for you, and you only have to find them and connect with them somehow. Something that struck me about 2049 was the character of K and how as he searched for his own identity he was also searching for reciprocation. That really resonated with me, and as I worked this song out the Blade Runner connection became stronger. So I had to work it in. This song gave me the most trouble throughout the process of recording and mixing this album. It has more elements in it than any other song on the album and ate up my CPU… I had to build 3 versions of mixdowns for this song to complete it. Using a 10-year-old laptop.

Bubble Life.
This one is about non-reciprocal relationships haha. It’s about gravitating toward someone you know will hurt you. I flew through this song, both writing it and recording it. I felt like if I messed with it too much, I would ruin it, so I just did it and walked away.

Polly Jean.
I’m a big fan of PJ Harvey. This song was actually a test I did spontaneously for a guitar I built, the electric guitar I use on this album actually. The song reminded me of PJ Harvey, and in my head there are lyrics, but I liked the brevity of the song so much (hit you and quit you like Guided By Voices) that I decided not to touch it and leave it as it was.

Guided Flight.
This song is about being forgotten about. It’s about something personal that I’d rather not detail, but it’s in the song. It’s about someone choosing the easy way out over the right way.

This one is about the way I felt for most of my youth. All of that is so far away now, but there was something catalytic about that year and those times. They weren’t great times by any means, more like a lull. But I guess the song is ultimately about growing up isolated and having to negotiate life like a pinball, finding solace in the simple things and opening the door to some personal enlightenment through embracing being alone and feeling alone instead of fighting it.

Like The Dream Lives On, I wrote this song some time ago but never really settled it down on record or in my mind. Also, like The Dream Lives On, it’s a song I wrote very quickly, as in an hour or two. It’s about knowing something is about to come to an end, someone is about to exit your life, and being inside of that moment. I never looked at it as good or bad, more reflective of having a mixed feeling of being sad for what’s passed but excited for what might be ahead; being free from someone else’s orbit but condemned back to the void…

As A Kite.
A short instrumental, which I do a lot of actually. Probably the vast majority of all recorded music I’ve ever done are short little tracks like this one, just never see the light of day. But This song, in particular, I wanted to include because, for whatever reason, it felt like it fit in here, both with the album and at the very end to tie it all up and release you. This song is actually separate recordings, from my cell phone. I recorded both acoustic guitar tracks completely separately; different days, different times, just a variation from memory. Later I edited them into each other. I like the way it maintains an equilibrium throughout just until the end, and then the synchronicity falters, and it playfully ends…


My Laundry RoomHomeColumbia SC, South CarolinaThe SouthUnited States, North-Western Hemisphere, Planet Earth, Sol System, Orion-Cygnus Arm, Milky Way Galaxy, Laniakea Supercluster, Known Universe
Ambient, ElectronicShoegaze, Dream Pop, Alternative, Psychedelic, Post Rock
Moog, acoustic, Electric, Blade Runner

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.