Album Reviews

City of the Sun

To the Sun & All the Cities in Between

Artist:     City of the Sun

Album:     To the Sun & All the Cities in Between

Label:     Chesky Records

Release Date:     03/04/2016


A sunset; wind in the grass; a Joshua tree; the early dawn chill giving way to the sun’s warmth – these are the images and sensations that City of the Sun works with the emote a sighing sense of wonder in To the Sun & All the Cities In Between. Everything is natural, and in that sense, everything is free. Their first full-length album, In Between is a pretty thorough exploration of jazz, Latin, flamenco and post-rock themes.

Coming up from almost nothing in the bowels of Manhattan in a classic story, City of the Sun has had an impressive rise as these things go. Their setup is alarmingly simple – just two acoustic guitars and a percussion box. It’s deceptive as well, since their sound speaks of wide-open skies and distances yet to run, stuff much bigger than their sparse arrangements would imply.

City of the Sun and In Between are sold with the post-rock label attached, though what they do is more subtle and variegated. They oscillate between firmly Spanish-style guitar work and dreamy soundscapes where the guitars take a backseat to overall thematics. But as is a hallmark of post-rock in general, the feel and mood is much more important than individual moments.

Despite their proficiency and gorgeous sense of timing, City of the Sun run the risk of being boring. As with all music, setting and environment are very important to the listening experience. Just as a quiet afternoon with a blanket and a book is not an appropriate venue for System of a Down, I can’t see City of the Sun selling out stadiums or encouraging mosh pits (that would be the politest mosh pit in history, though). However, that’s easily beaten, and all you need to do to fully enjoy In Between is to take a deep breath and have a chair in easy access – most of it works best when seated and relaxed.

-N. Neal Paradise

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