Friday, December 3, 2010

Record Review: Sun Araw - Off Duty

Sun Araw is the electronic solo project of Cameron Stallones, guitarist of the Long Beach, California band Magic Lantern. His new release, Off Duty, is the follow up EP to Sun Araw’s 2010 full length album On Patrol. Off Duty is an EP by name only, stretching over 45 minutes throughout its epic 5 tracks.

The album opens with “Last Chants,” a psychedelic journey through Sun Araw’s strange soundscapes. The song is filled with tribal drumming, distant echo-affected vocals, and a plethora of ambient noise and laser sounding synthesizers. The next song, “Midnight Locker,” is a dark, tempoless meandering of noise. Bouncing keyboards and percussive pounding (you can’t quite call it drumming) guide the song while a background guitar reminiscent of early Pink Floyd floats over the top. “Deep Temple,” the next track, carries on with the tribal and spiritual theme, as tape-hiss filled guitars play over delayed synthesizers and tropical drums. Over its 11 minute span, the track is simultaneously reminiscent of Indian music, reggae, and dubstep, somehow.

The album takes a darker turn with the fourth track, “In the Trees.” The song is a 9 minute, horrifyingly strange psychedelic jam. Stallones trades his echo pedal he used so religiously on the earlier tracks for a distortion pedal; twisted guitars play over a repetitive bass line while distorted vocals shout out from the foreground. The closing track of the album, “Canopy,” picks up where “In the Trees” left off. With another looped bassline, the song meanders over a reggae like groove, conjuring images of a
fantasy beach from some psychedelic nightmare.

Off Duty is a highly enjoyable EP, filled with echo drenched guitars and ambient synthesizers recorded with intentionally lo-fi methods. The EP creates a soundscape of some strange primal meditation, a spiritual reflection of sorts. However, Sun Araw’s drone-influenced, noise tracks are certainly not for all listeners. But for fans of more experimental music, Sun Araw will be very enjoyable experience. And it certainly is an experience.

-Will McCall

If you like Sun Araw and other Woodsist Records projects, tune in to Left of the Dial on Monday-Friday from 4-6 p.m.


julianmaestas said...

you've posted the wrong cover; the one you used is for Beach Head; the Off Duty cover looks like this:

also, the reason the last 2 tracks sound different is because they are a 2008 EP called Boat Trip which was included with the CD release of the Off Duty EP. i.e., Off Duty is the first 3 of the 5 tracks, Boat Duty is the last 2.

julianmaestas said...

oops, "Off Duty is the first 3 of the 5 tracks, Boat Trip* is the last 2."

liz pelly said...

thanks for the heads up julian