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Sun Araw - The Phynx

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Artist: Sun Araw

Album: The Phynx

Label: Not Not Fun

Review date: Mar. 25, 2008

The Phynx is an album that revels in a sense of mystery and imagination, from the cover picture of a blindfolded person sitting in a library – what good are books if you can’t see? – to the deliberately sparse information provided with the CD-R. Nothing more than the four song titles is offered to go on, but thankfully there are other sources of information that tell us that this is the debut solo outing of Cameron Stallones, guitarist for Magic Lantern.

That band’s hypnotic repetition is echoed to some extent here. But where the full band has an approach, not surprisingly, rooted in some form of rock, Sun Araw takes on the goal of mesmerism in a more free-form way. More like drone’n’roll, these four songs bring to mind Total and Skullflower, with an obscurantist ritualism driving them all.

Two 16-minute pieces bookend the set, with the shorter, more fully-formed songs sandwiched in-between. Like swampy rituals played out on a scuzzy factory floor, there’s a determined combination of the primitive and the modern, with tambourine rhythms beneath waves of fuzzed-out guitar, bluesy jams coated in a foggy haze, and clattering rhythms buoying deliriously delayed vocal chants.

“Fog Wheels” and the title track both undergo numerous shifts throughout, building to and fro as veils of cosmic smog are torn away by buzzing, distorted intensity. “The Phynx” reaches the most Bower-esque heights of drone-driven rhythmic thump, courtesy of the heavy guitar. “Harken Sawshine” is perhaps the closest to a normal song, a short, rough bluesy number coated in layers of grime.

Sun Araw’s emitted a pretty solid chunk of mind-melting here, like a mysterious relic from a primitive tribe some years in our future. If this is what their rituals sound like, count me in; they sound like fun folks to hang with.

By Mason Jones

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