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Sun Araw brings improvisational sonic exploration to Florida

Catch the experimental artist at two very different shows this week

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SUN ARAW BAND with D/P/I, Moon Jelly, Kris Gruda

9 p.m. Friday, April 4 | Will’s Pub, 1042 N. Mills Ave. | willspub.org | $8-$10

SUN ARAW SOLO with UCF Collide Ensemble play Toru Takemitsu

7:30 p.m. Sunday, April 6 | Timucua White House, 2000 S. Summerlin AveA. | thecm5.com | free

The theory of semantic satiation states that repetition of a word or phrase can cause it to temporarily lose all meaning for a listener, turning an otherwise recognizable term into a meaningless sound. If you ever want to put this idea in motion, say the word “jam” a hundred times in a row.

A vital component of contemporary music’s lingua franca, today “jam” connotes not only the act of jamming, in which every musician partakes, but also the patchouli-scented “jam band” culture that’s sprung up around acts like Grateful Dead, Phish, Widespread Panic and Disco Biscuits.

In certain circles, however, the art of the jam – freeform, improvisatory, genre-devouring, often hallucinatory – connects musicians to a much higher sonic plain. And very few artists reach higher for such elevated levels of musical consciousness than Cameron Stallones, who records and performs as Sun Araw.

To use a stoner metaphor, Sun Araw’s jam is the gourmet marijuana edible to the jam band circuit’s seed-and-stem-strewn dirt weed. Put even more bluntly, no one goes as far out as Sun Araw: a dizzying array of minimalist psych-dub releases; collaborations with Jamaican mystics the Congos, sun-dappled droners Pocahaunted and space-rockers Eternal Tapestry; a burgeoning experimental film focus.

It all makes linguistic sense, of course, considering Stallones’ band name pays phonetic homage to jazz cosmonaut Sun Ra, the king of far-out musical abstraction. “[Improvisation] is the central aspect of my process,” Stallones writes via email, “Though I also spend time developing structures that can provide focused direction to improvisations. It’s trying to think in advance of ways to keep you making the right turns when you’re not thinking. It’s a system of responding, but each response has the ability to change how the original statement is perceived. There’s an aspect of freedom in that.”

Freedom is also the key element of Stallones’ upcoming mini-tour in Florida, which finds him playing two nights in Orlando – a full-band rock show at Will’s Pub on Friday, April 4, and a solo performance with the UCF Collide Ensemble at Timucua White House on Sunday, April 6. When Thad Anderson, UCF assistant professor of music, suggested a program of music by Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu to Matt Gorney of creative booking and promotion organization the Civic Minded Five, Gorney reached out to Stallones and received an immediate response.

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