Magic Lantern and Sun Araw


(Copyright © 2010 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

Platoon (2010) , 7/10
Sun Araw: Beach Head (2008), 7.5/10 (EP)
The Phynx (2008), 6.5/10 (EP)
Sun Araw: On Patrol (2010), 6.5/10
Sun Araw: Ancient Romans (2011), 7/10
Sun Awaw: Inner Treaty (2012), 6/10
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Los Angeles-based guitarist Cameron Stallones launched the psychedelic project Sun Araw with the amateurish EP Boat Trip (2008), containing two nine-minute "trips", the slowly-pulsing In The Trees, with electronically manipulated vocals intersecting the monotonous rhythm, and Canopy, a sort of slow-motion "Hare Krishna" dance punctuated with crass guitar distortions. Sun Araw's quantum leap forward came with the EP Beach Head (Not Not Fun Records, 2008), divided into four lazy jams: Thoughts Are Bells, that simply juxtaposes bells and ghostly drones until a sitar hints at a melody that is picked up by a combo and birds and turned into a lively folk dance; Horse Steppin, a multifaceted organism with languid detuned guitar, funereal percussion, drunk distorted litany, and an intermittent loud keyboard melody; Beams, in which the most geometric beginning (obsessively repeated martial guitar chords) leads the most chaotic ending (just freely floating guitar tones); and Bridal Filly, a slow-rising fuzzy nebula of vocals and noise that composes a terrifying cosmic "om" swallowed into a bluesy guitar improvisation. Then came The Phynx (Not Not Fun Records, 2008), another four-song EP containing two 16-minute jams: the somewhat cinematic Fog Wheels, spectral-transcendental vocal harmonies that open a lugubrious or death-dance ceremony and that eventually fade away in a wind of demonic dissonance; and The Phynx, in which a choral monastery-like ecstatic protracted invocation leads to a manic guitar solo manipulated to become pure noise; although the shorter Hive Burner with its aggressive cacophony might be the emotional peak of all these initial EPs. (Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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The EP Heavy Deeds (Not Not Fun Records, 2009), with the 12-minute multi-layered psychedelic soul jam All Night Long, the 19-minute Hey Mandala from a split LP (2009) and the EP Off Duty (2010), containing the eleven-minute dub and drone feast Deep Temple completed the period of apprentice.

Sun Araw's first full-length, the massive On Patrol (Not Not Fun Records, 2010), came out at the same time as Magic Lantern's Platoon. Sun Araw's strategy is still to invoke the same musical theme over and over again. Hence Ma Holo is little more than the repetition of a simple drumbeat and shamanic babbling; and Deep Cover recycles a Chinese melody and a swampy rhythm yet slowly builds up to a choral pow-wow hymn. The imposing and menacing drone of Conga Mind is barely scratched by percussion and natural sounds for eight minutes that feel like a (terrifying) eternity, and that was probably exactly the point. However, Beat Cop boasts a quasi-funk rhythm, burbling electronics and a Gloria-like invocation. The free-form sounds of the 19-minute Holodeck Blues coalesce slowly around the wavering organ drone until the guitar finally detonates its soaring interplanetary mantra.

Stallones then formed Magic Latern, that debuted with the mostly-instrumental Platoon (Not Not Fun, 2010). Its overture is Dark Cicadas, a repetitive and open-ended funk-soul shuffle for Jimi Hendrix-ian guitar and droning acid organ. The guitar noise in On The Dime is intense to the point that it becomes mere background radiation and the emphasis shifts towards the pulsing groove. However, Moon Lagoon Platoon sits at the exact opposite end of the spectrum: an eerie deconstructed spiraling raga for sideral guitars and martial drums. Theirs could obviously be highly derivative music if they didn't create a personal synthesis out of the psychedelic classics. That synthesis blossoms in the eleven-minute Friendship, the album's spiritual center of mass, whose initial drum-less salvo of languid wavering "om"-like guitar wails slowly grows to become a monumental hymn-like jubilation at solemn ceremonial pace with the guitar simulating a multitude of voices and the organ ripping the surface of the galaxy.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Alessio)

L'EP Heavy Deeds (Not Not Fun Records,2009), con la jam soul-psichedelica multistrato di 12 minuti All Night Long, i 19 minuti di Hey Mandala sull’LP split(2009) e l'EP Off Duty (2010), contenente gli undici minuti dub e drone di Deep Temple completarono il processo di maturazione. Il primo album sulla lunga distanza dei Sun Araw, l'intenso On Patrol (Not Not Fun Records, 2010), esce a tempo con Platoon dei Magic Lantern. La strategia dei Sun Araw è ancora quella di invocare lo stesso tema musicale all'infinito. Per cui Ma Holo è appena un po' più di una  semplice ripetizione di un beat di batteria e di un mormorio sciamanico; e Deep Cover ricicla una melodia cinese e ancora un paludoso ritmo che lentamente s'innalza verso un corale inno pow-wow. L'imponente e minaccioso drone di Conga Mind è leggermente graffiato da percussioni e suoni naturali per otto minuti che sembrano una (terrificante) eternità, che probabilmente era l’esatto scopo. Comunque, Beat Cop vanta un ritmo quasi funk, gorgoglii elettronici e un'invocazione simile a Gloria. I 19 minuti free-form di Holodeck Blues si fondono intorno al lento drone ondeggiante dell'organo finchè, finalmente, le chitarre esplodono in un torreggiante mantra interplanetario.

Stallones forma anche i Magic Lantern, che debuttano con Platoon(Not Not Fun Records, 2010), prevalentemente strumentale. L'apertura è Dark Cicadas, un ripetitivo e infinito shuffle funk-soul per chitarre alla Jimi Hendrix e un acido droning di organo. Il rumore della chitarra in On The Dime è intenso al punto da diventare una mera radiazione di fondo e l'enfasi si sposta verso un groove pulsante. Comunque, Moon Lagoon Platoon si situa all'esatto opposto dello spettro: un inquietante e decostruito raga spiraleggiante per chitarre siderali e batteria marziale. La loro è ovviamente musica derivativa, se non fosse che creano una sintesi personale fuori dalla classica psichedelia. Questa sintesi fiorisce negli undici minuti di Friendship , l’ammassato centro spirituale dell'album,che inizia con un ondeggiante e languido “om”- come se il lamento della chitarra lentamente si espandesse in un monumentale inno-come un’esultanza al passaggio di una solenne cerimonia con la chitarra che simula una moltitudine di voci e l’organo fa rispledere la superficie della galassia.

Sun Araw kept evolving. Ancient Romans (Sun Ark Records, 2011) was, ultimately, a postmodern playground. Stallones took kitsch as a starting point and dissolved its code into an anarchic anti-code of detachment and estrangement. The keyboard patterns of Lucretius seem to mock new-age and ambient music. Crown Shell has a synth melody that seems to be stolen from a beach movie of the 1960s, although the real highlight is the decomposing corpse of its Caribbean rhythm. By the same token, Crete feels like a parody or deconstruction of trivial funk-soul lounge guitar shuffles, a parody that slowly reinvents the style as a complex abstract geometric pattern. The 15-minute Impluvium even toys with polyrhythmic techno and dub-influenced music. At Delphi (an artistic peak, bordering on musique concrete) throws folk music into a milkshake until only a vortex of vibrations is left, pulsing cosmic music for the thermonuclear reaction inside the heart of a star; and the shorter Trireme makes the final step and delves into tape manipulation. Fit for Caesar seems to bridge several worlds, starting with suspenseful droning that evokes a philosophical meditation and then attracting a jazzy trumpet for a loose free-form jam that morphs into a trance-inducing African dance. These (lengthy) pieces ran the gamut of progressive techniques (minimalist repetition, ambient drones, dub vibes, polyrhythms, chill-out funk lines, free-form acid jamming) that Stallones employed on previous recordings, but in a more casual and less austere vein. Much more lively than On Patrol, this collection boasts enough variety and imagination to turn Sun Araw into a major innovator of acid-rock.

Frkwys Vol. 9 (RVNG, 2012) was the result of a reggae jam by Sun Araw, M Geddes Gendras and the Congos.

Inner Treaty (Sun Araw, 2012) continued to refine Stallones' demented electronic psychedelic dub music but the overall tone returned to the lazy, calm insanity of On Patrol with the drunk, spaced-out, tropical waltz Out of Town, the loose liquified Hendrix-ian jamming of And I, and the multi-syncopated Eric Clapton Like Wine. Stallones even penned a surf-industrial remix of Pharoah Sanders' The Summum.

Icon Give Thank (2012) was a collaboration among Sun Araw, Los Angeles' keyboardist M Geddes Gengras and the Jamaican group Congos.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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(Copyright © 2010 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
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