Wednesday 3 June 2015

City of Ships - ‘Ultraluminal” (Album Review)

Album Type: Full-Length
Date Released: 20/3/2015
Label: Translation Loss

‘Ultraluminal” CD//DD track listing:

1). The Light You Stole
2). Alarm
3). Metadata Blues
4). Preeminence
5). Private Party
6). Illwarra Escarpment
7). Lost It
8). Hardwired
9). The Old Man
10). Mile High

City of Ships is:

Andrew Jernigan
Eric Jernigan
Eric Soelzer


Ah Translation Loss, one of my favorite indie labels having brought us many other releases from great acts like Rosetta, Mouth of the Architect, Giant Squid, East of the Wall, Generation of Vipers, and Intronaut. City of Ships returns after the very strong release “Look What God Did to Us.” The question of where have their travels taken them after the intervening years is an interesting one, as City of Ships has since refined their sound. What has remained is the floating melodies, great production, and nice layering of different harmonies. The primary improvement on 'Ultraluminal' is in the songwriting. City of Ships has tightened their song writing up and 'Ultraluminal' is definitely a release of a more mature band boasting very slick transitions and lots of chord changes. Some of the heavy in the guitar department does seem to be gone as there is no heavy rhythmic-based riffs a la “March of the Slaves” from their previous release. They seem to have dialled the distortion down a little bit as well going for more of a rock-fuzz tone.

Boasting ten solid tracks none of which clocks in past the 4.5 minute mark, this is a relatively short full-length weighing in at a svelte thirty-eight minutes. My favorite track by far is the sixth track “Illwarra Escarpment” which begins with what sounds like some ring modulated bass and moves into a really nice clean/delay guitar verse section right off the bat. The weird bendy effects laden guitar solo is a particular highlight and I wish it went a touch longer. The bass tone is extremely well recorded and sounds fantastic throughout the album as well. And I salute you sir for rocking a Peavey T-40 natural finish, a HIGHLY underrated piece of gear. My second favorite track would be “Hardwired” which displays City of Ships rhythm section at its finest and has a different feel then the rest of the tracks moving from Russian Circles-esque back to Helms Alee territory in the transitions.

Continuing their run, City of Ships continues to impress and continues to improve and refine their sound. This album is a well-crafted and deep work that is a definite grower. Although one minor critique is the song quality does seem to improve, particularly from tracks 6-10, over the songs that open the album. This doesn't really take anything away from it as it gets better the longer you have it on, and with being only thirty-eight minutes it burns through pretty quickly. One other great thing about City of Ships is they always seem to tour with other great bands, check out “Ultraluminal” then check them out on tour.

Words by: Chris Tedor

‘Ultraluminal’ is available here

For more information:

Follow: @cityofships