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 places. Ten years since Little Wars, Unwed Sailor has recorded Heavy Age. It too displays an image different from its predecessors – its leaden beats land heavier and bass churns harder. "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." It's an effect achieved in songs like "Thunderbird." Here, Ford's bass bristles beneath David Swatzell's guitars, which burn and glimmer with the hot intensity of a sparkler, and Matt Putman's plodding drums are bolstered by Colin Blanton's second rhythmic layer. Likewise, on the title track, Swatzell's guitars cut streaks across the song's landscape, a menacing, overcast setting, stirred up by Ford's murky bass, that match's the album's ponderous artwork.
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.