Since On Patrol first came out in 2010 on the experimental label Not Not Fun, Long Beach psych acolyte Cameron Stallones has released a steady stream of material — notably, last year’s Icon Give Thank, an album recorded in Jamaica alongside M. Geddes Gengras and roots reggae legends The Congos. As that effort unexpectedly climbed the World Albums chart, Stallones and Gengras were busy founding their own Dancehall imprint, Duppy Gun Productions. At its best, this wild ingenuity carries over into Stallones’s music, where he wades through a morass of sound to find an undercurrent of life.
On Patrol remains one of Sun Araw’s most consistent solo efforts. These nine compositions, which lean heavily on improvisation, take well-crafted textures and then subtly warp them through repetition. Earlier works, like 2009′s Heavy Deeds, exploited immediately recognizable elements of psychedelia — Theremin-like wailing, reverberating vocal swashes, the modal drone of Indian ragas — but On Patrol finds Stallones plucking through his influences’ gutted frames and re-evaluating the usefulness of their parts. As a result, the sound is leaner, more pointed, and moves closer to the mantric ideal of drone.
This relative consistency allows Stallones to subtly shift his tone while exploring the possibilities of a loose narrative frame — the funky “Beat Cop” slides from amused to aggressive, elemental opener “Ma Holo” takes on a gradual note of psychosis. Even the sketchy motif of a dystopian police procedural that threatens to overburden the music loosens its grip with repeated listens. What ultimately binds On Patrol together is Stallones’s balance of deliberation and uncertainty, an approach that has since expanded into a multi-faceted and highly collaborative career.