Hamerkop is a pair of Baltimore-based sound nerds: AnnabelAlpers, the composer, singer and instrumentalist formerly of New Zealand’s Bachelorette, and AdamCooke, a Baltimorean drummer/audio engineer with credits that include BeachHouse, WyeOak and FutureIslands. Together, they have created a song-cycle that contrasts the often mundane (yet often satisfying) everyday world with that of the idealised, longed for fantasy, to find the spaces in between these things, the place where we all feel good about our existence.
Hamerkop’s debut, Remote, started as an exploration of the sonic beauty in Alpers’ collection of field recordings from her homeland and travels around the world. Looped and sampled, they became a set of instrumental sounds of their own, and when played live in a multiple-speaker, surround-sound experience, their effect was transporting. The finished album blends these expansive sounds in choral layers of synths and vocals, with a kaleidoscopic, almost psychedelic quality, all of it anchored by Cooke’s Kraut-minimal drumming.
Remote is a natural progression from the criminally-underrated Bachelorette catalog —seeking catharsis through the contextualising of personal texts into lush songscapes, using the chill of synth-pop to mask the fallible human soul hidden behind it. Far away from her native New Zealand with a new life and family in America, Annabel strove to find elements of her old identity in new environs, building songs out of sonic scraps from remote places, as if she were sewing a blanket in which to wrap them all. As she puts it, “Home for me is in two places, and it’s been causing a lot of creative tension because I wish I could be in both places at once.”
The songs of Remote find depth and dimension via a rich tapestry of voices, found sounds and classic pop melodies, as constant synapse triggering from unexpected angles and algorithms reveals, by chance and design, a magical inner life scored by birds and babies, church bells and bonfires. Genre-defying, yet familiar, Hamerkop translates the topography that stretches out between us into a musical language that celebrates our shared places. The sound of Hamerkop is multi-layered, changing as it revolves. It’s the sound made by two people, but it could be all of us.