Sun Araw – The Saddle of the Increate
Sun Araw – The Saddle of the Increate (2017)
If nothing else, Sun Araw never fails to impress with his album art. It ranges from bizarre to brutal, minimal to absurd, its inscrutability even earning it honors among a Pitchfork "worst of" list. I have his 2011 album Ancient Romans on vinyl, and this double-LP gatefold glory is one of my most prized possessions, with its classical conceptualism and lush photography. I must admit, it was the art that initially spurred my intrigue, as it were, with The Saddle of the Increate, and I picked up a vinyl copy of this one too.
As with some of his other albums it's a bit of concept art: in this case it's apparently been inspired by cattle ranching. And, like his other albums, the music is a dissociative abstract patchwork of thematic exploration, the artist's trademark vocal snippets dropping in now and then with some disembodied observation, here perhaps in greater abundance than on prior material. On some of his intervening releases, the musicality found on Ancient Romans had given way to deconstructed abstraction; on Saddle, these two approaches seem to have been reconciled in a creative harmony that yields results I'd dare describe as tuneful and would assert to be a career high point. Hell, there's even a cover of an actual song here, Bob Dylan's "I Shall Be Released" (found here titled "Release").
Sun Araw's music is psychedelic, but it's not druggy: its sonic exploration, as bizarre as it may be, comes through clear-minded. It's truly unique. In The Saddle of the Increate, I'm quite pleased to find music that not only lives up to its cover art and ambitious title but conceivably operates outside of the particular niche the artist has thus far occupied, without sacrificing any of its novel weirdness. Now, I invite the reader to please enjoy the following close-ups of the album art.