Saddle Up, Ancient Greek Cowpokes: Psych-Weirdo Sun Araw Goes Country On 'A Chute' : All Songs Considered Sun Araw's psychedelic western epic The Saddle Of The Increate explores the link between cowboys and Ancient Greek mythology. Watch a video for the click-clopping "A Chute."
NPR logo Saddle Up, Ancient Greek Cowpokes: Psych-Weirdo Sun Araw Goes Country On 'A Chute'

Saddle Up, Ancient Greek Cowpokes: Psych-Weirdo Sun Araw Goes Country On 'A Chute'

"I kept thinking about the question of who or what sits in this giant saddle," says Cameron Stallones of Sun Araw's new double-LP. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Courtesy of the artist

"I kept thinking about the question of who or what sits in this giant saddle," says Cameron Stallones of Sun Araw's new double-LP.

Courtesy of the artist

"Definitely cowboy poetry was something I got interested in." Well, that's one way to describe an ancient Greek epic.

By Cameron Stallones' reckoning, Hercules was a cowboy. "I had never thought really at all about the Labors of Hercules," he tells NPR, "but then I started, and one thing that stands out immediately is that it's lots of livestock: Roping horses, capturing boars, that sort of thing." Hercules slew the Nemean Lion and the nine-headed Lernaean Hydra, captured the Erymanthian Boar and the Cretan Bull, and... herded some cattle from the giant monster Geryon. Okay, yeah — that's a cowboy. Wrap that up in some zodiac cosmology and surreal psychedelia and you get The Saddle Of The Increate, Stallones' new double-LP as Sun Araw. His music has become not just more abstract, but more pointed in how it both plays with and mutates.

"A Chute" click-clops its way over seven minutes like a slantways sunset on a hypercolor horizon. Stallones hiccups over a clipped guitar riff that plays itself forwards and backwards, set off by loose bits of flange and synth squiggles. It's silly and weird and fun — all the things that psychedelic music often forgets it can be nowadays. The video, edited and directed by Stallones, is also refreshingly silly and weird and fun, with friends "herding" reptiles under the supervision of a sunshaded cowboy hat.

Before creating The Saddle Of The Increate, Stallones had read about the 12 Labors of Hercules and how they relate to the Zodiac, which turned into a larger question of "who or what sits in this giant saddle." He explains his circuitous thinking:

"The last one, the Pisces labor, is the herding of the Cattle of Geryon. I discovered that there are these Indonesian temples that are in the shape of saddles. So then it was just all sort of moving. I kept thinking about the question of who or what sits in these giant saddles. About that time I was watching these Richard Feynman QED lectures on YouTube and I started thinking I could see something that all these things had in common, so that's sort of what the record explores. For the first time in my recordings, there are different speakers on the record — voices of different people involved in the roping and the directing of these red cows."

The Saddle Of The Increate is out now on Sun Ark.