Sun Araw - Rock Sutra Music Album Reviews

One of the best access points to Cameron Stallones’ eclectic discography, Rock Sutra imagines his act as a band playing together, reacting to the instincts of its members in real time.

At the age of 36, Cameron Stallones has released more than 20 albums—with Magic Lantern, Duppy Gun, and the Celebrate Music Synthesizer Group—but mostly under the name Sun Araw. A shockingly consistent electronic craftsman and guitar noodler who loves improvisation, Stallones’ songs are funny, rhythmic, never too danceable, and most obviously psychedelic, the first label to stick when the California-based artist arrived on the scene a decade ago. Now that he’s distanced himself from the reverb-heavy loops that marked his breakout, 2010’s On Patrol, it’s easier to understand Stallones in a wider world of spontaneous experimentation, one that extends to the adventurousness of mid-to-late century jazz and the heady treatments of technology-embracing classical composers like Karlheinz Stockhausen and Pierre Boulez.

Still, Stallones remains a beguiling figure because of just how eclectic his discography and persona have become. Often photographed with a mustache and trucker hat, he presents like an indie rocker, and his relationship with the label Drag City adds to his cred in the genre. Perhaps his most beloved album, Icon Give Thank, is a collaboration with reggae legends the Congos, and while his production style borrows from the Jamaican dub tradition, the fluid shifts in his dense arrangements suggest West African pop music of the 1970s. With Sun Araw, Stallones gives these transcontinental musical voyages an idiosyncratic vessel. His vocals sound canned and generic, as though sampled from non-musical sources. His lyrics have a sense of humor, a disarming quality in an artist who once described himself as a “recovering academic.”

Stallones’ latest, Rock Sutra, is one of the best access points to his discography. While previous highlights On Patrol, Belomancie, and his recent The Saddle of the Increate stretched out over an hour-plus, Rock Sutra clocks in at a concise 40 minutes. Musically, the album picks up where Increate left off, with exclamatory vocals and swirling polyrhythms indebted to afrobeat. Yet for the first time, Stallones’ African influences sound doubly filtered through the western exposures of David Byrne and Brian Eno; the guitar on the rousing “Arrambe” functions as a bass, while the stormy basslines on “78 Sutra” and “Catalina” part in the middle to reveal soaring, short-lived melodies.

On Sutra, Stallones is thinking in terms of instruments and how they relate to one another. His set-up now includes synthesizer player Marc Riordan and percussionist Jon Leland, and their interplay is unprecedentedly groovy. On opener “Roomboe,” Stallones commands “Half-step!” like a Bar Mitzvah DJ encouraging reluctant kids to dance. The live-to-MIDI recording process, too, shows that Stallones wants listeners to imagine this iteration of his act as a band playing together, reacting to the instincts of its members in real time—even if he ultimately exerts a perfectionist’s control over each pitch.

Electronic music often sounds like the painstaking product of time in isolation. Mediated as it is by technology, Stallones’ experimentation acknowledges a social universe. The attentive way that he reacts to his collaborators, his influences, and his own ego indicates that he wants to talk to listeners, bygone musicians and—he would be the first to say—the cosmos. In these lonesome times, Rock Sutra captures Sun Araw at its most chatty: speaking to much that came before itself, and a whole galaxy outside.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Sun Araw - Rock Sutra Music Album Reviews Sun Araw - Rock Sutra Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on April 18, 2020 Rating: 5


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