Release Date: Aug 23, 2011
Record label: Sun Ark
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Lo-Fi, Experimental Rock
Although the Roman poet and philosopher Lucretius -- which is also the title of the first track on Sun Araw's new, fifth full-length LP Ancient Romans -- wrote the epic poem De rerum natura (translated into English as On the Nature of Things), I'm quite sure he never described getting stoned to music. Back then, how far and wide Pythagoras' Music of The Spheres concept affected the masses remains a problem for music historians; but it's safe to conclude that his mathematical and celestial theory, based both on a legendary visit to a blacksmith (where he heard the tone each different sized hammer made when struck) and the order of the stars shining in the night remained unexplored during the Golden Age of Rome. The combination of getting stoned and hearing music must have been relegated to the dark side of town, regarded as both experiment and accident, influenced as much by pagan rituals and a curiosity for creating a rhythm.
There's something amusing in the way Sun Araw starts his latest album with spooky yet also slightly goofy keyboard noodling rather than droning blasts or contemplative zone. Then again, if the record's titular theme is being followed, the former rulers of a good chunk of Europe, Asia, and Africa did like to party, and when the bass suddenly cuts in on "Lucretius" and begins to throb in a rhythm, it's like the underscoring of an "eat, drink and be merry" sentiment with the "for tomorrow you die" counterpoint. One of Sun Araw's longest efforts, the double-album equivalent Ancient Romans has tracks mostly hitting the ten-or-so-minute mark, Cameron Stallone out for extensive mind expansiveness in his own particular way.
Like a sleepless night in an intemperate climate, Sun Araw's undulating edgeless psychmares stick to your clothes and leave chemtrails in your periphery. Ancient Romans, SoCal seeker Cameron Stallones' latest LP under the Sun Araw name, is another fever dream of dub-mottled organ grind and guitar squiggle, at once elemental and futuristic. Romans proves less departure from than refinement of his 2010 breakout On Patrol, a primordially textured slow-going ooze not unlike Excepter doing Earth covers over a skipping disc of Agharta.
Sure, undulating ambient soundscaping sounds cool in theory, but it demands an oriented headspace to function at full strength. That’s a long way of saying that the altered states of Cameron Stallones’ latest Sun Araw effort Ancient Romans are an acquired taste. Stallones demonstrated that grasp on elusive concepts during last year’s brilliant On Patrol.
Cameron Stallones’ work as Sun Araw can be summed up fairly well in a single word: epic. Looking out over ambitiously imagined worlds, Stallones sweeps his cinematic scope across huge, bombed-out, urban landscapes; dripping, marshy alien planets; and other such vivid scenes. The music on each of his albums has been shockingly vivid, with evocative, psychedelic drones layered with tribal beats, fuzzy explosions, and twinkling electronic stars.