Review Summary: Well executed electronica concept album that sounds like Eluvium with beats.
For a long time, the transoceanic journey marked the pinnacle of world travel. First by ship and later by air, explorers etched their names in history: Christopher Columbus, Leif Erikson, Zheng He, Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart. The airship effectively ended the remarkable power of these journeys, however. In 1929, the LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin, the most advanced German airship in creation, not only performed the first nonstop flight across the Pacific Ocean but also flew around the entire globe successfully. The concept of the airship as a means of traveling long distances ended after the tragic crash of the LZ 129 Hindenburg in 1937. But the idea of major airship flight is kept alive through organizations like the Puget Sound Airship Society. The society argues that the “[a]dvances in technology and the abundance of helium make the airship more practical than ever.” Indeed, the United States brought the Hindenburg to its tragic end by refusing to sell helium to the Nazi government. Thus, the Nazis fueled the airship with explosive hydrogen without putting in the necessary fireproof elements in place in a rush to get the ship in the air.
Another supporter of the airship is Adam Young, as demonstrated by his 2007 electronica album The Airship
under the moniker of Port Blue. The album envisions a journey from Atlantic City, New Jersey to Sydney, Australia and a tour through the luxuriant aircraft through warm, melodic electronica. Imagine Nobuo Uematsu’s Final Fantasy piano compositions transposed to synth strings and electric piano with fresh production and drum machines to complement the melodic aspect of the music. This combination gives the perfect sense of floating over a blue ocean with sunlight reflecting off its surface.
In Young’s pacing and compositional style, The Airship
is somewhat formulaic. His songs build organically, stating the chord progression and main melodic theme, and just before these ideas get tired, a driving rhythmic drum beat propels the song forward. Layers continue to add in, and the instrumentation changes slightly while still playing the same theme or possibly a slight variation. While indeed formulaic, it produces exceptional results. He masks his compositional style by making each song’s instrumentation and atmosphere different each time, from the piano led “Up Ship!” to the floating organ tones of “In the Control Car.” The drum beats vary from the simple hip-hop groove in “The Grand Staircase” to the jazzy rimshots in “Arrival at Sydney Harbor.” Between the variety in instrumentation and style and the similarities in pacing, Young manages to create an album as cohesive as it is varied.
Of course, the most profound and fulfilling aspect of The Airship
is its ability to truly convey the sense of floating in the air, traveling in a luxuriant airship across the ocean. Ambient sounds hide behind the gorgeous melodic material, bookended by the lifting off sounds in “Up Ship!” and the sound of footsteps straight from your Casio keyboard in “At Anchor.” Regardless of the basic footstep sample, the palette of sounds creates a beautiful, ethereal mix of colors. The Graf Zeppelin could not have any better accompaniment for its long journey than the music of Port Blue.