Tuesday: the Sun Araw trip | Bleader

Tuesday: the Sun Araw trip

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Sun Araw
  • Sun Araw
In a Wire cover story published this past April, Long Beach, California resident Cameron Stallones (who makes music under the name Sun Araw—which plays the Empty Bottle on Tuesday night) seemed intent on personifying every new-age, pot-smoker cliche. "The hermetic exercise which was given to initiates deep, deep, deep back was to try and feel one’s self extended in all of one’s life," he told writer Derek Walmsley. "To feel yourself present in all your life at one time. It’s a powerful exercise." Exactly.

You can practically smell thick clouds of weed when listening to Icon Give Thank (FRKWYS/RVNG Intl), an unexpectedly great collaboration between Sun Araw, fellow LA musician M. Geddes Gengras (who performs with Ital and Laurel Halo at Lincoln Hall on Sunday night), and the legendary Jamaican vocal group the Congos, who made one of the great Lee "Scratch" Perry-produced albums in Heart of the Congos back in 1977. Sun Araw shapes gooey, freewheeling jams built from leisurely percolating percussion; meandering, heavily processed electric guitar lines; and druggy, deeply manipulated synth squiggles, farts, and blurts. The rich vocal harmonies of "Ashanti" Roy Johnson, Cedric "Bongo" Myton, and Watty Burnett give the raw, bubbling tracks molded by Stallones and Gengras a functional shape and purpose behind head-nodding. No one with working ears would mistake the instrumental tracks here for the heavy grooves crafted at the Black Ark, but they nonetheless arrive as an excellent tonic to the pristine digital production that usually destroys most contemporary roots reggae albums. Icon Give Thank isn't exactly a reggae album, but it's a beautiful collision of aesthetic tendencies that end up complementing one another perfectly. Below you can check out the track "Sunshine."

Sun Araw, M. Geddes Gengras, & The Congos - Sunshine by RVNG Intl.

Alone and unchecked, Stallones' quasi-cosmic slop can be excessive, but he's managed to corral his indulgent impulses into a rather listenable new album called The Inner Treaty (Sun Ark). In some ways it makes me think that if Royal Trux had been baked on marijuana rather than cooked by junk when they made their classic Twin Infinitives it might've sounded something like this. The gurgling subterranean beats slither and slobber in narcotic spasms, while guitar lines poke and prod like a cat absentmindedly torturing a hapless insect. Every once in a while Stallones "sings," or, more accurately, says something, his voice swept in a barrage of echo and effects—but compared with the Congos collaboration these six tracks are more formless, wandering and exalting in viscous texture, day-glo color, and, of course, the present. Below you can check out the track "Like Wine."

Sun Araw: "Like Wine" by adhocfm

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