Ross Hammond – A Bright Light

12.20.22 by Matty McPherson

Ross Hammond is a self-prolific home recorder based in Sacramento. A humongous trove of recorded delights await you at his home bandcamp page that reveal the serious levels of leisure this practitioner takes to his practice.  He’s a guitarist’s guitarist; as such, A Bright Light is a cassette’s cassette.

Recording his steel guitar directly to cassette, Hammond strikes a peculiar guitar tone and set of timbres. It’s not quite a hickory-laden nor a dusty downtrodden guitar sound; I legitimately found his sound closer to that of east asian stringed instruments and the long shadows their drones cast. However, truth be told, Hammond tuned his guitar to Open D and just hit record on his daily improvisational recording session back in January and cast his fate,letting his guitar set a course of its own volition. Thus, A Bright Light is an act of mindfulness on Hammond’s part. And perhaps that is why his steel guitar sound though has a watercolor paintbrush quality to it, casting long, droning chords that can simultaneously skip between the foreground and background of the listen, as small steady chords wind and steady the piece’s sense of direction. As such, A Bright Light creates a most naturalistic, impressionistic listen. The kind that happens to share more in common with a long forgotten, “it’s at your local used bookstore” Elektra/Nonesuch cassette that presents “traditional” sounds of regions distant from the continental US.

The two tracks–A Bright Light and Sometime Near Sundown–that came of this C32 have the tranquility and excitement that comes from watching a Bob Ross rerun at 11:30 pm. What I mean by this is that it is exceptionally easy to hear and outline Hammond’s process in real time, perhaps even enough so to trick yourself you too, could do this (and dear reader, you may be able to!); you become tranced out and time stands about as still as it can seem for that half hour. “It just feels good to make sounds” is the genuine MO that guided these two pieces. Truly, the reality is that hearing Hammond guide a sonic motif to its finish or begin to swell his sounds and flirt with hitting the red is just that tantalizing and relaxing. A hard tape to want to file away as a low hanging fall-sun drips towards the vanishing point.

Pro-dubbed, edition of 100 available at the Full Spectrum Records Bandcamp