Monday, 5 October 2009

Sun Araw – Heavy Deeds [Not No Fun]

There must be something in the water in LA, just these last few years it’s spat out everyone from Flying Lotus and the Brainfeeder crew to No Age and HEALTH of The Smell crew and numerous more, far to many to mention. Well another artist has been brought to my attention in the form of Sun Araw the brainchild of Magic Lantern’s guitarist Cameron Stallones whose latest album Heavy Deeds, his sixth release is out now on Not No Fun. It’s a heady mix of hazy dubbed out prog-rock garage jams with a deep down and dirty swamp like psychedelic aesthetic, its all distortion and blazing sun backed riffs that’s all at once in your face and spaced out. There’s a really retro feel to Heavy Deeds like he’s re-creating half remembered music from the past through his own vision, he expands on this and some influences a little in an interview.

‘The new album Heavy Deeds is all flowing from Fela Kuti zones, ’70s African funk, etc., but in the same way that Beach Head was flowing from Zuma, which is to say, vaguely. It’s not an afrobeat record by any stretch, just faded impressions, some tone inspiration overlapping the sort of psychedelic modes I try to dwell in.’

You can really hear where he’s coming from, there is a stretched out funk to Heavy Deeds, a lazy free flowing looseness where he captures sketches of grooves and drenches it all in a warm hazy fuzz. This lo-fi aesthetic has been pretty ominous this year especially, I mean its always been around but now you could say its the IN thing. And up until now I’ve been finding it really hard to get on with, there are so many disparate sounds under the lo-fi banner and a hell of a lot of it just sounded like twee hipster in-jokes set to shrill indie recorded badly, and it was really starting to wear thin. I had all but given up on looking for anything that might float my boat, as there seemed to be a sea of hangers on making really embarrassing stuff being churned out like sewage into the ocean. But a couple have now shone through and Sun Araw is one of them.

Heavy Deeds is six tracks long and all melts into one prolonged jam, which at it’s best is mesmerising and paints hypnotic pictures in your mind. But if my mood isn’t right it sometimes reminds me of the music of The Mighty Boosh when they go to find the new sound in the desert and dress as a guy psychedelic monk with a door in his head and a dude with eight penises… but for now that’s only at the very back of my mind behind a chair. The title track was the one that really caught my ear, full of low-slung disjointed, loose funk with that distorted blazed out almost tropical feel to it. I’ve no idea what these songs are about the vocals are drenched in effects and sound so unobtainable and far away but in an interview he mentioned the record was inspired by a night of heavy deeds, and you really can feel the tension in this music that a night like that would bring. As well as the dubby soup like sounds you can really hear a kind of garage rock approximation of Brian Eno’s Hear Come The Warm Jets, in fact I was making a little playlist with a little dub and some Sun Araw and the next thing that popped into my mind was that very track by Eno, which makes sense as he mentions them in the liner notes.

There are plenty more highlights on Heavy Deeds but its not the easiest record to get into and you get the feeling its all blending into one, the reverberating echo drenched sounds all meeting one another at the ends… This is one to stick on a zone out to, taking in the groovy bass, blanched guitars and droning organ. Its like you’ve put on an old forgotten record that hasn’t been cleaned pumped it up loud and gone to listen to it in another room entirely. You half remember the songs but not quite right and you start to wonder if the grime and dust on the surface has started to eat away and morph everything into new sounds taking on a whole new life of its own and the needle’s jumping, creating locked grooves that make you wonder if the track is meant to be like that. It’s an absorbing listen, Sun Araw has made a world of his own and its well worth a visit.

Live videos

Interview with Sun Araw

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