With over 20 years of music under his belt, Johnathon Ford, the visionary behind Unwed Sailor, presents a new offering in his expansive interpretation of instrumental music.
Throughout the band’s career, Ford has leapt in a myriad of instrumental directions, from angular post-rock rhythms, to dreamy ambient soundscapes, to the sound of homemade instruments playing storybook nursery rhymes. Though all these directions vary in style, all of the albums share a certain melodic sensibility, a flavor that’s undeniably Ford’s, yet each has its own unique place in creating the sound and vision of Unwed Sailor. In effect, the band’s discography feels like a collection of postcards from different times and
This, of course, includes Heavy Age, the band’s most recent full-length (and first in a decade), whose leaden beats land heavier and bass churns harder than the band’s predecessors.
“With Heavy Age,” Ford says, “I wanted this to feel like an Unwed Sailor live record. Like if you came to an Unwed show, this is what you’d hear—heavy and bombastic, like grabbing someone by the shirt.” Still Heavy Age also contains glints and sparks of the albums that preceded it. Songs like “Indian Paintbrush” and “ACAXAO,” for example, feature Little Wars’s wavering momentum, it’s swarming effervescence; others like “Nova” feature The White Ox’s vast expanses.
Though nothing quite captures the aesthetic of The Marionette and the Music Box, the album possesses a similar sense of narration, as if each track feels like a chapter in an epic story.
In effect, Heavy Age feels like the culmination of everything that Unwed Sailor has released—and a touchstone toward which the band has been building for years. But the only way
to understand their sound and style, to truly comprehend the breadth of their depth, is to pick up their stack of postcards—starting with Heavy Age, the darkest and densest—and flip through them one at a time.
Flow Clinic (St. Louis)