Review – SunÂ Araw at theÂ Fox Cabaret, Vancouver, July 24 2014
– by Thalia Stopa
The V.Â VeckerÂ Ensemble began ThursdayÂ night’s show at the Fox Cabaret, a former Vancouver porn theatre. The local band’sÂ groovy psychedelic meanderingsÂ was accompanied by spinning constellation of light emanating from theÂ disco-ball suspended from theÂ centreÂ of the high ceiling. Just beforeÂ Parisian experimental electronic artistÂ JeÂ SuisÂ Le Petit Chevalier took over the stage, the ball ceased turning and time seemingly froze. It was as if the remainder of the night existed outside of the realm of the world outside of the red womblike space.
JSLPC, aka Felicia Atkinson, looked quite bookish with her light brown hair swept up into a bun, squinting at her laptop from behind large nerdy glasses. However, the noise that sheÂ engineeredÂ was far less innocuous: theÂ loud low grumblings sounded like an industrial machine chewing throughÂ spaceÂ rock.Â The primary-colouredÂ stage lights flickeredÂ sporadicallyÂ as the grinding gained speed, as if leeching energy from the venue.Â It was a slow, repetitive and strenuous build of momentumÂ that lost my attention midway through its navigation.Â The rest of the audience was divided between entranced stillness on the dance floorÂ and bored chatterersÂ seated in the back lounge area.
Video – JeÂ SuisÂ Le Petit Chevalier,Â “Drying in Abou Â [sic] Dhabi”:
Probably those unimpressed loungers were restless and ready to dance, because they abandoned their seats and attitude to press forward for the headlining act.Â SunÂ ArawÂ isÂ the pseudonym ofÂ AmericanÂ experimentalÂ musicianÂ CameronÂ Stallones.Â Althou aÂ frequent collaborator,Â his latest album,Â Belomancie,Â was a solo effort.Â Vancouver hosted the last Canadian showÂ ofÂ hisÂ tourÂ to promoteÂ this spring’s release.
To achieve the diversity of sound onÂ Belomancie,Â StallonesÂ sang andÂ playedÂ synthesizers and guitar in aÂ call-and-response set with hisÂ bandmate who providedÂ percussion and woodwind. AlthoughÂ mellow and sparse in soundÂ relative to the opening bands, theÂ funkyÂ beats produced by aÂ set-up of a few small drums,Â includingÂ aÂ bongoÂ andÂ sleighbells, wereÂ enough to inspire animalisticÂ dancing and groovingÂ from most of the small crowd.Â AÂ jazz and funk influenceÂ could be heard throughÂ the addition of anÂ unusual (undetermined) woodwind instrumentÂ that resembled a recorder fashioned out of a large stickÂ butÂ emulated the sounds of a saxophone.Â The more usual electric guitar addedÂ aÂ familiar psychedelic rock elementÂ to several songs.
Full album (YouTube) – Sun Araw, Belomancie:
Before the second last song of the set,Â StallonesÂ paused to recount a story that was somehow loosely related to the tune, aboutÂ a wise man who lived in the mountains of some faraway village. One day, the guru descended on the villageÂ wildlyÂ riding his donkey up and down its streets. When one of the villagers asked him the purpose for his chaotic running around the man responded, “I’ve lost my donkey!” Punch line delivered successfully,Â StallonesÂ delved into a metaphoric psychedelic donkey race, singing along “Well, I’m riding high.”
Whether it was solely the musical inspiration kicking in or something more synthetic,Â midway through SunÂ Araw’sÂ performance oneÂ audience member was moved enough toÂ utilize the stage forÂ his interpretive movements andÂ had to be prompted byÂ a sound technician to remove himself. The mood was generally joyous and the energy from both the musicians and the audience was inÂ (ahem)Â highÂ spirits.