Sun Araw: Ancient Romans Review
Sun Araw are physic warriors, kings of mind warping synth voyages, creators of some of the most adventurous mind fucks of the last few years. Almost to a fault. I can, and do, enjoy the plethora of work that the band (actually just one dude named Cameron Stallones) have released over the last few years, but whenever I start writing about their music it feels like nailing jello to a wall. This isn’t helped by the fact that their amorphous sound is often a result of live studio jamming (often hard to quantify) and that loose structure allows for the band to release as much material as they can get to tape, so often that an old recording is out of date before you can even gather your thoughts.
No longer. Sun Araw are back with their latest (at least as far as this moment when I am writing) LP Ancient Romans, and it is complex and engaging as their previous work has always proven to be. The songs are always centered around psyched out, syrupy synths, and Ancient Romans is no different. Highlights include the bubbling bass and hazy electronic surf rhythms of “Crown Shell,” and the 8-bit sonic mind warp of “Crete” which is a dizzying journey through an electronic forest, with scattered voices calling out from the distance and warbling sounds darting in and out of the speakers. They go about as “pop” as they possibly can on the smooth instrumental jam “Lute and Lyle,” which sounds like a more wonked out Animal Collective, melding a euphoric pop sound and putting it into a koshmice, psyched out blender. While there are many highlights that really show their strong and engrossing sound, it is tracks like “At Delphi” that , while giving them ambient indie street cred (if there is such a thing), are the tracks that scare people away from ambient music in general.
Sun Araw are clearly pysch warriors, shown both from the quantity and the quality of the material they have released over the last year. Their sound can be amorphous and wandering, but Ancient Romans is a good attempt at the band trying to “ride the tiger” to 4th dimension synth utopia. While a lot of the genre (and Sun Araws’) work seems to be free flowing to a fault, there is a concerted focus found on this LP that reigns in the bands sound about as much as would be possible without giving up what makes them so great. While their most focused work is still probably considered sheer madness by a large majority of the population, Ancient Romans is probably the groups most focused and realized work to date. Whether fans take that as a good thing or not is up to them, but the band will surely have some new material to chew on any day now.