NNA is excited to host the latest recording from S. Araw Trio XIII, a group of musicians dedicated to electronic musical freedom, under the guidance of visionary Los Angeles-based psych-maestro Cameron Stallones, aka Sun Araw. Stallones has been diligently active over the last decade, utilizing psychedelic pop as the foundation for creative expression, while also delving into electronic music, dub, ambient and more through a focused and personal visionary lens. Sun Araw’s recordings have found their home on labels such as Drag City, Not Not Fun, Woodsist, Thrill Jockey, and most recently his own Sun Ark imprint. Joined by Tomo Jacobson and Jon Leland, the Trio XIII is dedicated to improvisational exploration in the live setting, traveling the globe and sharing profound musical connections. Their latest recording ‘Activated Clown’ was recorded live in Braga, Portugal and presents some of their most intrepid, otherworldly improvisations to date.
Divided into two distinct long-form pieces themed around Day and Night, ‘Activated Clown’ draws it’s inspiration not only from the steamy climate and lush landscapes of Portugal, but also from focused viewings of paranormal sci-fi horror films, 80s nine-ball billiards matches, and a steady diet of coffee and veggie alheira sausage. This bizarre concoction of stimuli, however random it may seem, helped give birth to a set of future-minded MIDI jazz suites that enthusiastically scratch the outer limits of live improvised electronic music. “Hermeto Tume,” representing Day, conveys an upbeat, active, dance-like celebration that dissolves into pure abstraction, with sparkling aquatic gestures trickling forth in a gentle cacophony of acoustic percussion, guitar scribbles, and synthetic washes. “Mantis Suite: Invitation To Love,” representing Night, operates in a more subdued, blissful sector of deep space, patiently evolving into staccato, conversationally open and melodic zones of electric relaxation. Both pieces exhibit a careful attention to texture, melody, and space, creating an open channel for three creative minds to function as a single exploratory unit, hungry and avid for the unlocking of new sounds.
These rich and vivid pieces that comprise ‘Activated Clown’ contain a unique, crystalline essence, showcasing an incredibly strong improvisational relationship between the three players. There is a controlled, simmering hysteria that walks the line between hallucinatory madness and equatorial relaxation, as traditional instruments such as whistles, shakers, and Fender Rhodes licks jive casually alongside warped synthesis, electronic drums, and truly extra-terrestrial textures. There is an essence and atmosphere of jazz at play in these recordings, but it is unlike the jazz we are accustomed to hearing here on Spaceship Earth… perhaps on some distant, interplanetary nightclub, ‘Activated Clown’ would be heard as an old standard, seldom accessed by the bipedal flesh creatures of our humble planet. That being said, ‘Activated Clown’ is a crucial document of an innovative trio of minds, inspired by their travels and surroundings, capturing the results of a musical bond forged in a specific moment in time and space.