July 2nd, 2014 , by John Beeler
It’s been thirteen years since Asthmatic Kitty Records released Sufjan Stevens’ Enjoy Your Rabbit, but we’d never pressed it to vinyl — until this year. Now that it’s available in limited edition, colored vinyl, we thought we’d celebrate by asking director and animator Geoffrey Hoskinson to create a video. We let him choose the song and the concept for the video. What he created is mesmerizing and beautiful.
We asked Geoff a few questions over email about the video.
What appealed to you about the song “Year of the Tiger?”
“Year of the Tiger” is a really outstanding track on the record. I love how it is like a soft ballad juxtaposed with noisy glitchy interruptions and a big climax. It is these dynamics that really appeal to me.
Could you talk a bit about how you made this video? It’s so vibrant and alive. What tools did you use?
The video was created with Photoshop and After Effects. I designed all of the pieces in Photoshop and then animated them in After Effects.
There’s some really interesting visuals here; obviously the tiger is important, but you even have tiger sperm swimming through to a sun-egg. Your work tends to address some life/death issues. Could you speak to that?
What mainly drove the visuals for the video was the concept of birth. This was inspired by the notion of the birth cycles of the Chinese zodiac and the (then) impending birth of my son. The vocal parts in “Year of the Tiger” sounded to me like a wordless lullaby for a baby. So in the video, I saw the tigers as spiritual beings who were calling a new soul into existence with their song.
You can buy Enjoy Your Rabbit here, or at your local record store.
June 17th, 2014 , by John Beeler
Chalk it up to good fortune: Sufjan Stevens’ Enjoy Your Rabbit is finally coming out on vinyl.
Fourteen electronic instrumental tracks—one for each sign of the Chinese Zodiac, plus two—Enjoy Your Rabbit was first released on CD in 2001, and it was destined to enjoy a fruitful and prosperous future. The Osso String Quartet’s Run Rabbit Run album recreated Stevens’ pieces in arrangements for live, acoustic chamber ensemble, and choreographer Justin Peck’s acclaimed Year of the Rabbit ballet is set to an orchestral interpretation of the album.
On June 24th, 2014—the Year of the Horse—the original recording will be made available as a double-LP set, with lucky bonuses for anyone who picks up the limited-edition pressing.
Disc 2 is clear, but disc 1 could be pressed on either white, red, blue or green translucent vinyl. Only the Zodiac knows which color is hidden inside each copy of the album.
And no one can foresee who will receive one of two very special boxes of fortune cookies, containing fortunes penned especially for this occasion by Sufjan himself. (Check with your local record store too!)
A perennial favorite for fans of Sufjan Stevens’ electronic side, Enjoy You Rabbit‘s time has come around again. Preorder now, and we predict some very beautiful music headed your way.
Bonus: Order Enjoy Your Rabbit on vinyl with Osso’s Run Rabbit Run on vinyl for just $30.
February 17th, 2014 , by John Beeler
“Rhythm of Devotion” is out on Soundcloud. A lyrics video for “Alcohol,” another new single, is up for listening on Soundcloud.
Sisyphus will be on on March 19th, 2014.
November 29th, 2013 , by John Beeler
Sufjan Stevens’ Silver & Gold vinyl boxset is available for sale. Two hundred copies of the the original 2,000 limited edition remain. Though AKR will keep the vinyl in print, it is unlikely that we’ll “repress” all the goodies inside.
The vinyl boxset includes:
1. One of only 2000 Limited Edition Boxsets, including five EPs on 6 vinyl discs
2. Christmas stickers
3. Temporary tattoos (non-toxic & safe for children)
4. Paper ornament (self-assembly with directions)
5. 40-page Christmas songbook with vocal and piano reductions
6. Christmas coloring book
7. Hallucinogenic photographs and psychedelic graphic design (by Sufjan Stevens, drug-free since 1975)
8. Extensive liner notes (introductory salutations and an essay on the Christmas tree by Sufjan Stevens, and a few theological words on the End Times by Pastor Vito Aiuto)
9. Download card.
10. Extra surprise stuff???
It is available for $120 (plus hefty 6lbs worth of shipping & handling). You can order the vinyl (and the CD boxset as well) by clicking here.
November 21st, 2013 , by John Beeler
New England area record and comic book store is taking pre-orders for a limited edition of Sufjan Stevens’ 2005 Illinois, with exclusive red and green colored vinyl that matches the award-winning artwork from Divya Srinivasan. The limited edition of 1,000 is out December 10. You can preorder it from Newbury here.
November 8th, 2013 , by John Beeler
Bryce Dessner is widely recognized for the rich guitar sound he brings to The National, and almost as widely for the discreet but unmistakably cerebral sophistication of projects like that group and his other, somewhat quieter band, Clogs. And so it may come as little surprise to his listeners in the rock world that Dessner, in addition to his performing career, has also built up a reputation as an esteemed classical composer, culminating in this week’s CD release of his music for string quartet.
Aheym, recorded by the iconic Kronos Quartet and released on Anti-Records, is only the latest step in a classical music career that has also included collaborations with composers Philip Glass and Steve Reich, in addition to cross-genre projects like the recent Planetarium, a song cycle created with Sufjan Stevens and opera composer Nico Muhly.
Stevens and Muhly exert a certain influence on Aheym. It was Muhly who proposed the collaboration between Dessner, Kronos and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus that produced the movement Tour Eiffel, recorded here, and Stevens makes an appearance as one-man choir of overdubbed Tenebre, singing the Hebrew alphabet in a nod to Renaissance settings of the Lamentations of Jeremiah. Along with the album’s two purely instrumental works, Little Blue Something and the title track, their warm harmonies and layered, vital rhythms herald the emergence of a serious new composer of classical music.
July 16th, 2013 , by John Beeler
Out now on Asthmatic Kitty Records, Chris Schlarb’s Psychic Temple II is an auteurist outing with an all-star cast.
Led by composer and multi-instrumentalist Chris Schlarb, the Psychic Temple project brings together an enormous range of artists from the musical underground: singer-songwriters Ray Raposa of Castanets, Nedelle Torrisi of Cryptacize, Aaron Roche and Sufjan Stevens; Mars Volta keyboardist Ikey Owens; Death guitarist Paul Masvidal; Xiu Xiu and Nels Cline bassist Devin Hoff; drummers Tabor Allen and Andrew Pompey; trumpeter Kris Tiner; and many more.
“Each one of them is a leader of their own project,” Schlarb says of his Psychic Temple lineup. It’s “an honor,” he says, “for me to be in charge for a little while.”
Psychic Temple II was recently chosen as a First Listen by NPR.org, who said that Schlarb’s “restless creativity has no choice but to continuously seek new worlds” and praised his “unfailing determination to make things happen.” Schlarb himself describes the Psychic Temple project’s sophomore out as “the most ambitious large scale work for an ensemble that I’ve ever put together,” but the effect of the music is more important to him than its complexity.
“If somebody wants to jump into it on a songwriting level or a structural level, they can listen to it and say, ‘Wow, that’s really neat, these chords are really interesting,’ or, ‘These time signatures are jumping around,’” says Schlarb, “but I’d also like to reach them on a sentimental level. It doesn’t just exist to be difficult.”
Instead, Schlarb says, “I really challenged myself with this record, to write stuff that was a little more intricate and complex and detailed, but still allowed to live and breathe.” The result merges the sophistication of jazz or chamber music with an unpretentious indie-rock atmosphere.
Psychic Temple II is available in CD, LP, and digital download packages starting July 16.
December 20th, 2012 , by John Beeler
What’s a Flexi? Invented in the 1960s as an easy way to distribute singles alongside printed material (like magazines), a flexi is a paper-thin vinyl record. And Joyful Noise’s Flexis are clear, single-sided, 7″squares. It’s a pretty unusual format, but playable on any standard turntable.
The 2013 lineup also includes:
Here We Go Magic
Helvetia feat. Built To Spill
Mike Adams At His Honest Weight
The Sea And Cake
Sufjan Stevens & Cat Martino
Flexis are not available for individual sale, you must subscribe to the entire series. However, you may cancel at anytime. You may sign up for automatic monthly payments, or pay all at once for the whole year.
Subscriptions are available for $5 / month (w/ a “deluxe subscription” available which includes a box set), right here.
EDIT: The tracks in the Flexi series are exclusive, including Sufjan and Cat’s. You won’t find them anywhere else except in Flexi form!
December 6th, 2012 , by John Beeler
If you’re going to one of the remaining shows from The Sirfjam Stephanapolous Christmas Sing-A-Long Seasonal Affective Disorder Spectacular Music Pageant Variety Show Disaster, you’ll need a songbook. Your entrance fee + ticket reservation accusation + online bandwidth transmission charge + emitted diode light security insurance fee entitles you to receive one at the show, but we know that some of you may wish to have them early so as to study, to color, to share.
Click here to download the songbook in PDF form. Print in B/W, fold in half.
EDIT: We just moved the show in Indianapolis on December 14th from the Old National Deluxe to the Old National Egyptian Room. The Wheel of Christmas is larger than the basement. Tickets available now – click here to get them for $20 + fees.
November 20th, 2012 , by John Beeler
Later this week, Sufjan Stevens begins his tour for Silver & Gold starts this week. If you’re going, there’s some homework. Listen to and memorize these songs, and then watch a few videos featuring Sheila Saptuo, who’s opening for Sufjan. The videos, directed and produced by Jeff Shoop, Rosie Thomas, and Deborah Johnson are featured on Pitchfork today. Click here to view all of them.