July 5th, 2023 , by John Beeler
We’re releasing a special Year of the Rabbit Edition of Sufjan’s Enjoy Your Rabbit!
In 2001, we released the album on CD, then released a vinyl pressing in 2014. The album’s fourteen songs (one for each sign of the Chinese Zodiac, plus two for good luck, ie. “Year of the Asthmatic Cat” – that’s us!) are distinctly Sufjan. Sufjan may be better known as a singer-songwriter and folk artist, but Enjoy Your Rabbit demonstrates that Sufjan has never obeyed the laws of genre; many of the electronic riffs on this record tease hooks that appear later on Michigan, Illinois, Age of Adz, and The Ascension.
Enjoy Your Rabbit has lived its own long and prosperous life. The Osso String Quartet’s Run Rabbit Run album recreated the album in arrangements for live, acoustic chamber ensemble. And choreographer Justin Peck has collaborated with Sufjan over half a dozen times, including the recently debuted Illinois production at the Fisher Center at Bard, but Justin’s first collaboration with Sufjan was to choreograph the songs on Enjoy Your Rabbit for Year of the Rabbit, which premiered at the New York City Ballet in 2012.
It’s now 2023, a year of the rabbit, one predicted to be full of harmony, longevity, and prosperity – making it a perfect time for a Year of the Rabbit Special Edition vinyl of this double LP. Since Sufjan was born under the rabbit, we wanted to wait until his birthday to unveil this for his fans.
This 2xLP is pressed in a calming deep blue vinyl, punctuated by a subtle rabbit-fur cloudy white. We hope it brings you harmony and good fortune.You can pre-order the Year of the Rabbit special edition of the 2xLP here (ships August 1st).
June 30th, 2023 , by John Beeler
Today, Angelo shares Toil and Trouble, his first solo effort since 2019’s breakthrough third album, the Thomas Bartlett-produced Tomb, and his follow-up to 2021’s critically acclaimed collaboration with Sufjan, A Beginner’s Mind.
Mojo has already reviewed the new album, saying that Angelo “ups his game . . . Augustine’s fourth is celestially good.” The album also received an 8/10 from Uncut, and NPR’s Bob Boilen said that “Another Universe,” the first track released from the album, was a “breathtaking song.”
Listen to the full album on streaming platforms here.
Check with your local record store to pick up an indie gold exclusive color, or you can buy a cauldron-fire colored vinyl, and a bundle including a Toil and Trouble themed T-shirt, Angelo’s 2019 Tomb on vinyl that includes a randomized set of three Toil and Trouble themed collector cards here (sample of the cards below).
June 13th, 2023 , by John Beeler
On the single, Angelo says “As we all know, we are living in a world within another. A place of specific curation and design where the mind is the chief architect in command. I often wonder who the mind is working for? Who is behind the curtain pulling the strings and transmitting the messages?”
Accompanying the song is a stop-motion animated video by Clara Murray that incorporates Daniel’s cauldron. “’Toil and Trouble’ takes place in a dusty room alight with magic, tucked away but teeming with magic. Flying pop-up books and a singing cauldron give birth to mystical creatures, tapped into a sorcery seemingly both wicked and holy,” says Clara. You can hear the song and watch the video here.
Check with your local record store to pre-order an indie gold exclusive color, or you can buy a cauldron-fire colored vinyl, and a bundle including a Toil and Trouble themed T-shirt, Angelo’s 2019 Tomb on vinyl. Both the bundle and LP include a randomized set of three Toil and Trouble themed collector cards. The bundle is available here.
Special 20th anniversary vinyl editions of Sufjan’s Michigan album out now: second pressing arriving in fall
June 9th, 2023 , by John Beeler
AKR has partnered with Third Man Pressing in Detroit to release three special editions.Read the Rest...
May 24th, 2023 , by John Beeler
Today Angelo De Augustine released “The Ballad of Betty and Barney Hill,” the second single from his upcoming new album, Toil and Trouble. The song is based on the Betty and Barney Hill incident, a UFO sighting in New Hampshire that occurred in 1961 in which the Hills, with their dog, Delsey, claimed to have been abducted by extraterrestrials.
Accompanying the song is a stop-animated video by Clara Murray.
You can hear the song and watch the video here. Check with your local record store to pre-order an indie gold exclusive color, or you can buy a cauldron-fire colored vinyl, and a bundle including a Toil and Trouble themed T-shirt, Angelo’s 2019 Tomb on vinyl. Both the bundle and LP include a randomized set of three Toil and Trouble themed collector cards. The bundle is available here.
In reference to “The Ballad of Betty and Barney Hill,” Angelo says that “while making the album I endured an experience so horrendous, torturous, and inexplicable that words fail me and explanation seems impossible. Within this period, I felt a close connection to Betty and Barney Hill and their story. I even started to believe that perhaps I had been abducted by some kind intergalactic being as they claimed occurred to them fifty-four years ago. When we experience something that doesn’t make logical sense, the mind looks to conjure any explanation no matter how outlandish it appears. We appear to crave understanding. Perhaps it makes us feel safe. The looming presence of the unknown is daunting and sometimes frightening. However, there is much we do not yet understand, some of which we will never comprehend.”
Clara Murray, who animated the video, talked about the abduction itself, “As with any alien abduction story, the case of Betty and Barney Hill left me unsettled, curious, doubtful. I wanted to capture that faltering feeling through repetitive, abstract events—as if the car is moving through time and space until time and space itself degrades around them—the characters, stuck in a loop, ultimately ending up in the same place they began. The setting is eerie, shifting, dreamlike and yet the invasion is corporeal—a haunting within flesh—as described by Barney Hill, ‘Oh those eyes. They’re there in my brain.’”
May 19th, 2023 , by John Beeler
Today we are proud to release Reflections, the studio recording of Sufjan’s’ score for the ballet of the same name by choreographer Justin Peck, performed by pianists Conor Hanick and Timo Andres. To celebrate this release, we commissioned long-time Sufjan collaborator Stephen Halker to create a series of audio visualizations that animate the artwork from the album by Jessica Slaven, timed to the music.
Talking about the visualizations, Stephen said, “The motion design was dictated by the forms of Slaven’s artwork and the sonic characteristics of each piece. The visuals and compositions are so dynamic that the motion design was just an act of introducing the two forms to each other and watching them interact and mirror themselves.”
Timo and Conor, who performed the pieces, have also commented on the motion present on Reflections. Says Timo: “The music has an innate theatricality, drama, and variety that seems to suggest movement—not in a toe-tapping, groove-oriented way, but instead something both grander and quirkier. It was a pleasure to work with Sufjan to find the right interpretive balance of showmanship and intimacy in this music, and I was lucky to be joined in the process by the great Conor Hanick, whose playing I’ve known and admired for years.”
Hanick agreed: “Reflections – for all its kaleidoscopic virtuosity and stylistic variety – is a piece about movement. You can practically see its shapes and vectors form in real-time, gliding, tumbling, floating. Even in a body of work defined by boldness and contrast, Sufjan’s music in Reflections feels daring.”
Orders for the album on aquamarine-colored 45RPM LP, CD, are available now wherever you buy records, or via AKR here and on Bandcamp. The AKR Store and Bandcamp also include a bundle for sale that includes the expanded edition of The Decalogue with a photo-booklet.
Angelo De Augustine Announces Toil and Trouble, Fourth Solo Album; Single & Fantastical Video of “Another Universe” available now
April 25th, 2023 , by John Beeler
Today singer-songwriter Angelo De Augustine announces his fourth studio album, Toil and Trouble, set for release on AKR on Friday, June 30th.
The album’s lead single, “Another Universe,” is also out today alongside a fantastical claymation video, written/directed by Angelo and fabricated/animated by Owen Summers. Watch and hear here, below, or your preferred streaming service.
“I grew tired of reality and so I decided to make a world of my own. It is a safe world. The kind of place in which only good things happen,” says Angelo about the first single and the video.
This is Angelo’s first solo effort since his third album, Tomb, and his follow-up to 2021’s collaboration with Sufjan, A Beginner’s Mind. Toil and Trouble sees Angelo returning to the self-contained approach of his 2015 debut Spirals of Silence and 2017’s Swim Inside the Moon. Angelo spent nearly three years working alone and exploring the vast expanse of his imagination, creating a work that exists according to its own quixotic logic, inhabiting a psychic landscape as mystifying as a fever dream or a fairy tale. He wrote, arranged, recorded, produced, and mixed Toil and Trouble on his own, shaping the album’s sound by performing on 27 different instruments (including such oddities as a xylophone made of glass). In the midst of that highly experimental process, he endured an ephemeral but nightmarish period of otherworldly sensations and supernatural visions—an experience that briefly disrupted the album’s creation but in the end helped to enrich the album’s immense emotional depth. You can read more about the record here.
You can pre-order an indie gold exclusive color at your local record store.The AKR store features a cauldron-fire colored vinyl, as well as a bundle including a Toil and Trouble themed T-shirt, Angelo’s 2019 Tomb on vinyl, and a randomized set of three Toil and Trouble themed collector cards. Buy from the AKR store here. All versions and formats include artwork by Daniel Anum Jasper and layout and design by Eric Timothy Carlson.
Sufjan to release duo piano album Reflections, performed by Timo Andres and Conor Hanick; video & single out now
April 18th, 2023 , by John Beeler
“Ekstasis” is the first track from the album and is available now. Director Brian Paccione and his team filmed Timo and Conor playing “Ekstasis” live at Yamaha Studio NYC. You can watch that below, or here.
Pre-orders for the album on aquamarine-colored 45RPM LP, and CD, are available now wherever you buy records. The first 500 orders made via our AKR store includes a slipmat featuring the cover art by Jessica Slaven. You can also bundle your purchase with The Decalogue + Reflections slipmat. Pre-order those here.
Reflections was originally commissioned by The Houston Ballet with choreography by Justin Peck and premiered March 21, 2019. Written for two pianos and eleven dancers, Reflections marks the sixth collaboration between Sufjan and Justin, following Year of the Rabbit (2012); Everywhere We Go (2014); In the Countenance of Kings (2016); The Decalogue (2017); and Principia (2019). You can read more about Reflections here. Pre-orders are available here.
April 14th, 2023 , by John Beeler
Today, Denison Witmer released a new standalone single via AKR called, “It’s Okay to Live A Quiet Life,” in two versions, “For A,” and “For E.” Produced and performed by Witmer with help from Thomas Bartlett and Andy Park, Denison wrote the song after a road trip with a friend who asked, “When is it ok to just be? Can’t I just live a quiet life?”
“So much of our energy is spent trying to separate the signal from the noise,” says Denison, “This song is meant as an encouragement to the listener to pause and take the time they need to rehabilitate. It’s ok to live a quiet life. You don’t have to prove a thing to yourself or anyone.”
Denison originally wrote “It’s Okay to Live A Quiet Life” as part of a side project under the moniker of Uncle Denny (a nickname Sufjan jokingly gave him when they toured together) to challenge himself to produce music as quickly as possible in a first-thought-best-thought approach. Denison wrote and recorded a song a day for a month and then released them on Bandcamp immediately after. Songs ranged from “Hello 2020” (January 1) to “Kobe Bryant” (January 26) to “Constitutional Crisis” (January 30th).
The two versions of “It’s Okay to Live a Quiet Life” reflect the various personalities and tastes of Denison’s children. “They have different musical tastes, and I thought it would be a fun challenge to make each one in the style of music that they like,” says Denison.
You can hear the songs and view the corresponding videos here.
December 2nd, 2022 , by John Beeler
In July, Sufjan released two alternate versions of his song, “Fourth of July”, which you can listen to here. We pressed a red 7-inch of the two songs and they are available now at your local record store or for immediate shipping via the AKR store here.
A “Fourth of July” t-shirt is available here. We’ve also created a bundle that includes the t-shirt, “Fourth of July” 7-inch, The Greatest Gift LP, Carrie & Lowell Live 12-inch single and the Carrie & Lowell LP. The bundle is available here.
Both songs were recorded in 2014 – “Fourth of July (April Base Version)” was recorded in Eau Claire, WI at Justin Vernon’s April Base studio, and “Fourth of July (DUMBO Version)” was recorded in Sufjan’s old studio in Brooklyn, NY.The original version of “Fourth of July” appeared on Sufjan’s 2015 album, Carrie & Lowell. As is (and was) his custom, Sufjan would often rework different versions of his songs while recording an album, and “Fourth of July” was no exception. (Other versions & remixes of the song were released on “The Greatest Gift” mixtape and on the “Exploding Whale” 7” single.) These two latest versions were recently found on old harddrives. The refrain of the song, “We’re all gonna die,” invokes a meditation on human mortality and fragility, even as it acts as an anchor of stoic hope. Its solemnity invites listeners to feel comfort, connection — even joy — wrought from great pain and loss.