For those of us that are still compiling mixed discs for one reason or another, one might indicate that the most frustrating restraint is that of the eighty-minute limit. This ceiling makes for some immensely difficult decisions on what to eliminate and what to keep to fill the precious open space that is left. Very rarely however, does a full-length release flirt with exceeding the capacity of the compact disc. Sun Araw’s 2011 installment Ancient Romans, is one of those extraordinary instances. Clocking in at 79 minutes, Ancient Romans is a daunting listen; never devoid of the trippy, quirky, and undeniably eccentric psychedelic rock that Angelino Cameron Stallones’ solo work has been commended for. The former Magic Lantern member captures an extremely peculiar sentiment with Ancient Romans, but an ultimately interesting one for those with time to invest in it.
For a massive, and undoubtedly over-the-top record, Ancient Romans is prided on its wealth of sound. From reverb-drenched synths and guitars to unconventional percussion, this release is a collision of walls of melodious noise, which craft a murky ambience. This atypical sound, is most notably driven by thundering bass-lines that provoke the gradual build-ups found throughout the release. However, the highs and lows of Ancient Romans do not appear to vary as much as one would believe, as each of the tracks are slow-burners which don’t seem to crank up the metronome. Case and point with “Fit for Caesar,” which utilizes a sluggish electronic and bongo-laden entrance and ultimately unravels into the various layers created by the saxophone, relentless bass, and sun-drenched guitar leads.
As intriguing as Ancient Romans may be, the record is essentially weighed down by the combination of the overwhelming length and lucid lack of anything that could be considered accessibility. With six of its eight tracks exceeding nine minutes, and the briefest falling just short of seven minutes, Ancient Romans does not lend itself to casual listening. Understandably, psychedelic music is inaccessible by trait and requires quite a bit of time to develop into, but when the record is at the unbearable length that Ancient Romans is, this is an arduous feat. For those willing to take on the task, Sun Araw’s 2011 release is an interesting one to say the least, a record that could very well be the year’s most unique to date.
2. Crown Shell
4. Lute and Lyre
5. At Delphi
6. Fit for Ceasar
Cameron Stallones began his musical career as a founding member of the experimental psychedelic rock collective Magic Lantern. Soon after, demos originally intended to light the Lantern became the first Sun Araw LP: The Phynx. Sun Araw blossomed as a solo project in attempted geosynchronous orbit with the Eternal Now: oblique six-dimensional transmissions from changeless environs. Structural and spiritual inspiration for Sun Araw comes primarily from Cameron’s first artistic love: film and filmmakers, especially those invested in the long-take (Tarkovsky, Altman, Bela Tarr, Greenaway). ... read more