Sun Araw | Ancient Romans

Sun Ark/Drag City (2011)
By LIZ PELLY  |  August 16, 2011
3.5 3.5 Stars

ancient romans

The hypnotic fifth LP by Sun Araw — the five-year-old solo project of Angelino Cameron Stallones — is a double-vinyl spiral through deep zones of neo-primitive psych-drone noise. Using guitars, bass, electronics, and the occasional bongo, Ancient Romans finds Stallones making sacred space with eight long tracks: most around 10 minutes, with the shortest clocking in at 6:40. It starts with bare looping synths and layers of shadowy keys on "Lucretius," named for a mysterious Roman philosopher only known for one epic poem on Epicureanism. (The band name, in fact, is also an allusion — to his musical hero Sun Ra, who he praises in interviews.) Three minutes into the track, noisy drones drop in, the minimalism drops out, and the song takes on a mantra-like quality, much like the record as a whole. Vocals are muffled, adding mystical textures to the grooving "Crown Shell" and the first, bass-heavy single "Crete." The trance-inducing "Lute and Lyre" is a bright, off-kilter waltz of washy vocals, looped guitar melodies, and prickly electronics. The record's visual vibes play out heaviest on album closer "Impluvium" — 15 minutes of chaotic, late-night jamming. Ancient Romans is not an easy listen, but for those with the attention span, it's a worthwhile trip.
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