Asthmatic Kitty Records

Sufjan Stevens

Convocations

Catalog: AKR145 • Cover Art: Sufjan Stevens
Release date: May 6, 2021
  • Preorder LP Buy

Full project available on digital: May 6, 2021
See below for full digital schedule

5xLP Physical boxset available: August 20, 2021
Pre-order for boxset: April 8th, 1pm EST


It may be tempting to reduce Convocations into a longform ambient anomaly within Sufjan Stevens’ vast catalogue. It is, however, neither an anomaly nor entirely ambient. This is not a side project. From his numerous dance scores for New York City Ballet to instrumental albums such as Enjoy Your Rabbit, Aporia, and The BQE, Stevens spends at least half his working life making largely instrumental music, as he has for decades. And though the first ten pieces, dubbed “Meditations,” unfurl as gorgeous states of reflective new-age grace, this is by no means an ambient enterprise. Stevens invokes the lessons of Morton Subotnick, Maryanne Amacher, Christian Fennesz, Brian Eno, and Wolfgang Voigt here. As musically erudite as it is emotionally experienced, Convocations can be dissonant, vertiginous, rhythmic, repetitive, urgent, or calm—that is, all the things we undergo when we inevitably live through loss, isolation, and anxiety.

Indeed, Convocations moves like a two-and-a-half-hour requiem mass for our present times of difficulty, its 49 tracks allowing for all these feelings to be felt. The album is divided into five sonic cycles, each replicating a different stage of mourning. Convocations occasionally soothes and sometimes hurts; when it’s done, you’re left with a renewed sense of wonder for being here at all.

In fact, Stevens made Convocations in response to (and as an homage to) the life and death of his biological father, who died in September last year, two days following the release of The Ascension. It is, then, ultimately an album about loss, and an album that reflects a year in which we have all lost so much. One could easily compare this project to Stevens’ album Carrie & Lowell, which he wrote following his mother’s death. But this is something entirely different. A new time, a new season, a new life lost, a new reckoning, a new kind of isolation, grief, despair, frustration, confusion, and the search for happiness and hope for the future. This is not a personal record, but a universal one. Convocations is built on a shared experience that seeks to be honest about how complicated grief can be in these difficult times—the pain, the anxiety, the unknown, the absolute joy of memory. This is also an album made in lockdown, when we were all cloistered in whatever space we had. So long as the science and statistics hold, Convocations arrives just as we begin to emerge from a year whose losses we will calculate for a lifetime. It is, then, right on time, as we begin to process our grief and try to carry on with it. —Grayson Haver Currin


Schedule

  • Tuesday April 6
    “Meditation V” out now.
  • Thursday April 8
    12PM ET: Livestream of Meditations.
    1PM ET: Pre-orders available for 5xLP boxset
  • Monday April 12
    “Lamentation II”
  • Thursday April 15
    12PM ET: Livestream of Lamentations
  • Monday April 19:
    “Revelation II”
  • Thursday April 22
    12PM ET: Livestream of Revelations
  • Monday April 26
    “Celebration VIII”
  • Thursday April 29
    12PM ET: Livestream of Celebrations
  • Monday May 3:
    “Incantation VIII”
  • Thursday May 6
    12PM ET: Livestream of Incantations,
    1PM ET: full Convocations project available on digital platforms
  • August 20th
    5xLP boxsets ship.