May 6th, 2016 , by John Beeler
Island Universe Story: Selected Works is out today. The record is a compilation of a few songs from the many cassette tapes from Helado Negro’s Island Universe Story series. We pressed this on tinsel vinyl, and we have some left if you’d like to pick one up. Ten silver, seventy-seven red, seventy-six blue, and seven clear. Your local record should have some as well.
What is the tinsel? What does it represent?
If the Island Universe Story cassettes were subconscious representations of other worlds in his and our shared imagination, this limited edition vinyl represents the leakiness between those worlds. Some of the records contain silver threads, the sheddings of those dreamy beasts that have joined him on stage in cities all over the world, animated by new friends in each venue where Helado Negro has performed.
May 6th, 2016 , by John Beeler
Since we released Twilight and Ghost Stories in 2007, Chris Schlarb has been part of the Asthmatic Kitty Records family. Even before that we partnered often with Chris’ Sounds are Active record label.
With the (re)formulation of Psychic Temple and the release of III, Chris has reached a new apex. If you’ve listened to any of Chris’ music before, and many of you have, you’ll recognize Chris’ trademark collaboration. The album is a who’s who of talented musicians: Spooner Oldham (Neil Young, Bob Dylan), David Hood (J.J. Cale, Aretha Franklin), Mike Watt (Minutemen, The Stooges), Avi Buffalo, Nedelle Torrisi (Sufjan Stevens), Elliot Bergman (Wild Belle, NOMO), Dave Easley (Brian Blade Fellowship) and many more. Coming together quickly and intuitively, the album was mixed over three days with Ronan Chris Murphy (King Crimson). Chris has a knack for corralling an army (a cult, if you will) towards the creation of new music.
III is some of Chris’ best work, if not the best. We hope you’ll give it a listen, and if you like it, you pick it up today at your local record store, and maybe even tell some friends and family. We’ve had the great pleasure of hearing for a while, and III has a found a regular home on our turntables and smart devices. We hope it does as well in yours.
We have a few of the limited gatefold edition available in our store here.
April 27th, 2016 , by John Beeler
How do you capture Southern California in four minutes? Psychic Temple’s “Brother O” and Jessica Nicole Collins’ music video treatment do just that. A superb video, set to a superb song. Verve, life, color, California.
III is out next week on digital, vinyl, and CD. Get it at your local record store on May 6, or preorder it here.
Here’s a running and plausibly incomplete shot list: woman, sunrise, beach, waves, shells, gulls, telephone poles, dock, jammin, moon, cliffs, mountain, elevation, clouds, window, cult leader playing guitar, sunrise, hanging out, rocks, field, sun through leaves, cult leader playing guitar, bodega, fireworks, feet splashing in pool, wind above houses, enjoy your rabbit, biplane, dogs playing, clouds chasing, sun moving, power lines, moped motorcycle, cult leader, mariachi band, prayer clothes, dandelion, wish made, grass, hands in wet sand, pool time, palm trees, nondescript hotel architecture, sailboat, sun over hills, dead tall grass, running across bridge, drum, wedding, party, snow, families, sledding, fog, beach, police, time to go, aquarium, bridge, palm trees, bottle rockets, cult leader, smoke blown, dance, party time, backpack runner, coolest shows ever, lightening dancing, fire in can, metal, pinball, cult leader playing guitar, mulholland overlook, night glo bowl, cult leader playing guitar, hula hoops, drummer, flamingo dancers, color, two timing two step, the dip, the smile, in love, in love with life, with music, with water, with wind, with trees, with kids, with friends, existential gaze over water, just hanging out, water crashing, pool, baptized with waves, coming up, reborn from water, sun off waves, back under, back up, fade to black.
April 1st, 2016 , by John Beeler
The officially licensed, totally legit, 100%, Marvel-approved a-ok Sufjan Stevens’ Illinois: Special 10th Anniversary Blue Marvel Edition is available now. The release includes both discs in Antimatter Blue and Cape White colors. Every copy of Illinois: Special 10th Anniversary Blue Marvel Edition includes a red 12″ single of a demo version of “Chicago,” die-cut into the shape of the star on the Chicago city flag. Read details on the record here.
Sufjan is touring extensively this summer at festivals near you, starting with Coachella in just a few weeks.
Blue Marvel is currently heading up The Ultimates. Issue #05 is just out.
We’re currently out of stock at AKR HQ, but record stores everywhere should have the Illinois: Special 10th Anniversary Blue Marvel Edition.
Here are some lovely instagram photos of the edition:
#Repost @abicus_newcastle ??? Wowzers!!! Look at what just came in. The Sufjan Stevens 'Illinois: Special 10th Anniversary Blue Marvel Edition' complete with die cut star shaped 12", 'Antimatter Blue" and "Cape White" lp's plus full album download of 2014 remaster… All bundled within the stunning limited edition tri-fold sleeve featuring Chicago born superhero Bluemarvel, licensed officially from Marvel. Ha!!! What a package. Quite possibly his true masterpiece, 'Illinois'…essential. ???? #sufjanstevens #darbystreet
March 22nd, 2016 , by John Beeler
Helado Negro has released a video saying goodbye to a hard winter, set to “Mitad De Tu Mundo.”
In about a month we’ll be releasing Island Universe Story: Selected Works, a tinsel vinyl limited release, with this song. We still have a few of each color left for preorder here. Your local record store should have a few of each color as well.
February 25th, 2016 , by John Beeler
We’re happy to announce that every Illinois: Special 10th Anniversary Blue Marvel Edition will also include a die-cut, star-shaped 12″ vinyl based on Chicago’s city flag.
Sufjan, who plays guitars and organ on the song, recorded the track in 2004.
The Illinois: Special 10th Anniversary Blue Marvel Edition includes exclusive cover art featuring Chicago-born superhero Blue Marvel, licensed officially from Marvel. In addition to the “Chicago (Demo)” 12-inch, the double LP also includes “Antimatter Blue” and “Cape White” vinyl colors for the two discs. The audio for the special edition comes from a 2014 remastered version of Illinois.
We pressed 10,000 of the Illinois: Special 10th Anniversary Blue Marvel Edition. The Special Edition will be available worldwide through your favorite local record store.
We’re also selling a slightly less special, misprinted 12-inch version of the song separately. The label on these 2,000 records incorrectly reads 45 RPM. The record plays best at 33 RPM.
You can preorder this misprinted 33 RPM single here. We’ll be shipping it out in April.
February 16th, 2016 , by John Beeler
Human and machine also grow closer in Helado Negro’s Island Universe Story: Selected Works. Created alongside his recent performed work, the album compiles songs chosen from three “Island Universe Story” cassette tapes released between 2012-2014. If the tapes represent the subconscious exploration of other worlds in Helado Negro’s imagination, then this record, with its clear vinyl embedded with tinsel, suggests a certain leakiness between those dimensions. Some of the records contain silver threads, the sheddings of his Tinsel Mammals that have joined him on stage in cities far and near. Other records in this limited edition series contain the remnants or rumor of further realms, with the blue, gold, or multi-colored metallic sweepings left behind by creatures we haven’t yet met and can only imagine. Perhaps the tinsel itself recalls the actual, ionized tape, pulled from their original cassettes.
The album begins with a soft march in “We Will You,” building louder and joined by a fully present being pronounced in marble mouthed vocoder. Recognizable as spoken language, yet indecipherable, this voice meets another, legibly human, and we’re game for more, “you’re a strange impossible feeling, let’s go strange impossible stealing.” From here each song offers a sketch of a unique land within the same cosmos. On “Enfocando“ Lange dreamily repeats the Spanish word for “focusing,” perhaps unconvinced that he should find gravity through the jaunty distractions of a spacy lounge or field of blooming curiosities. All electro save for Lange’s well-deployed heavy breathing, oohs and ahs, “Detroit” evokes an exhilarating night drive on empty wide-laned roads, while “Mamember” and “Salve Nada” each find at times a softer squish and ooze, an organic, fleeting, tactility. While primarily composed in solitude, the intimate wandering continues in the orchestral swarm of “Stop Living Dead,” created with composer Trey Pollard and a double string quartet and “Mitad del Mundo” featuring the talents of Wilco’s Mikael Jorgenson.
Limited to 1,000 pressings of a variety of colors with art work by Paul Coors, the album immediately suggests a relic loosed from a dream. Set into motion Island Universe Stories: Selections carries us into the dark to find galaxies within galaxies, the human, the machine, the space between. We let go of charting the stars in resolute focus, and greet mysteries with wonder.
February 11th, 2016 , by John Beeler
Psychic Temple III is a folk pop masterpiece, the culmination of years of failures and experiments. It is as honest and true a musical statement as Chris Schlarb could possibly make. It exists free of guile and corporate control. III is the obsessive, colorful work of an auteur who spent years playing to a handful of hardcore followers.
And now you can hear the first song. We’re honored to share it with you, and hope you enjoy.
Psychic Temple III completes the transition from avant-jazz solo project to a working band constructed around timeless songs that draw upon the rich history of classic American soul, blues, and folk. Equally immersed in the sound of California’s canyons and the swamps of the deep South, Psychic Temple’s cult leader/guitarist Chris Schlarb steps out of the shadows and up to the microphone for the first time with astonishing results.
Maintaining Psychic Temple’s affinity for nuance and delicate minimalism, ‘III’ exhibits a new directness centered around Schlarb’s agile guiding voice. While the album places his unfolding vocal melodies and narratives in the foreground, ‘III’ subverts easy categorization by sustaining the collaborative, exploratory spirit of ‘Psychic Temple’ and ‘II’.
Culled from sessions recorded at home in Los Angeles and the legendary FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama – ‘III’ includes contributions and performances from Spooner Oldham (Neil Young, Bob Dylan), David Hood (J.J. Cale, Aretha Franklin), Mike Watt (Minutemen, The Stooges), Avi Buffalo, Nedelle Torrisi (Sufjan Stevens), Elliot Bergman (Wild Belle, NOMO), Dave Easley (Brian Blade Fellowship) and many more. Coming together quickly and intuitively, the album was mixed over three days with Ronan Chris Murphy (King Crimson).
You can preorder a special “Deluxe Altar Edition,” a gatefold version of the record artwork, limited to 500 prints. Also available is the single LP. Preorder here.
February 11th, 2016 , by John Beeler
Sufjan has released a new live video of the title track from Carrie & Lowell. The video was filmed in North Charleston and directed by We Are Films. Long-time Sufjan collaborator Deborah Johnson edited the video.
Sufjan will be touring Australia and New Zealand in just a few weeks. You can purchase tickets here.
Monday 22 February – State Theatre, Sydney
Friday 26 February – Hamer Hall, Melbourne (sold out)
Saturday 27 February – Hamer Hall, Melbourne
Sunday 28 February – Hamer Hall, Melbourne (just added)
Monday 29 February – Thebarton Theatre, Adelaide
Wednesday 2 March – Red Hill Auditorium, Perth
Friday 4 March – Qpac Concert Hall, Brisbane
Sunday 6 March – New Zealand Festival, Wellington
Tuesday 8 March – The Civic, Auckland
January 13th, 2016 , by John Beeler
Chris Schlarb – aka Psychic Temple – has released a video teasing a new Psychic Temple album: III. Tom DesLongchamp illustrated the video.
As shocking a transition as The Byrds’ pitch toward country music with Sweetheart of the Rodeo, Psychic Temple III completes the transition from avant-jazz solo project to working band playing classic American soul, rock, and folk music. Equally immersed in the sound of California’s canyons and the swamps of the deep South, Psychic Temple’s cult leader/guitarist Chris Schlarb steps out of the shadows and up to the microphone for the first time with astonishing results.