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  • Filed under: Review
  • 08/22/2011

Sun Araw Ancient Romans

Cameron Stallones doesn't do small. Maybe it's just not a part of his musical vernacular, or maybe he doesn't see the point in creating only three and a half minutes of sprawling psychedelia. Regardless, the prolific vibe merchant isn't likely to release a record that isn't massive (at least by today's standards) in both size and concept. The eight-track, 80-minute-long Ancient Romans LP is the latest transmission from the Southern Californian's Sun Araw moniker, and though it may be nearly twice the size of his Off Duty EP—something that doesn't exactly bode well in this age of rampant, ADD-fueled consumption—the room Stallones allots his music is both warranted and beneficial.

Take the album's 11-minute centerpiece, "At Delphi." Here is a wispy composition that churns and bubbles like a mystical convergence of the age-old souls referenced in the LP's title. The size of the track allows each handcrafted synth noise and treated guitar pluck sufficient time and space to dip in and out of the mix without disturbing the mesmerizing drift of its pace. This places a distinct importance on each instrument, which in turn gives what might otherwise be an ambient lull in Ancient Romans' playlst the character needed to be one of its most captivating and memorable tracks. Stallones exercises this well-honed ability throughout the bulk of his seemingly improvised sonic journey—like on the slow-grooving "Lute and Lyre" and "Trireme"'s cacophonous jangle—with hardly a faltered step.

That's not to say Sun Araw's latest is perfect. The man obviously knows his way around psychedelia's tropes (repetitious drumming, vibrating drones, aimless guitar noodling, et al), and is compelled to explore their possibilities at length—something he's done over the course of three-plus years and roughly 16 releases. That said, it can be deflating that the project's sound palette hasn't really changed much in that time. Even as he tours the world with his Sun Araw Band, Stallones' music is still that of one man locked in his studio with a bit of greenery and a few Faust and Cluster records. It's a singular, though often exciting, vision with seemingly no end, but as the scope of Sun Araw expands wider and wider, it might benefit its creator and his tools to grow along with it.

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