“The Ballad of Betty and Barney Hill:” new single and video from Angelo De Augustine
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.’”
Reflections, composed by Sufjan, performed by Timo Andres and Conor Hanick out now
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.
Watch the visuals here, and listen to the record here. Read more about Reflections here.
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
We’re proud to announce Reflections, a new duo piano album composed by Sufjan Stevens and performed by pianists Timo Andres and Conor Hanick, set for release May 19th, 2023.
“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.
Denison Witmer Releases New Single: “It’s Okay to Live a Quiet Life”
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.
7-inch of Sufjan’s “Fourth of July” available now in stores, AKR store
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.
New songs and videos from Angelo De Augustine, available now
November 17th, 2022 , by John Beeler
Angelo De Augustine has shared “27” and “Hologram,” a new double single available now via Asthmatic Kitty Records at all DSPs and streaming services here. A limited edition cassingle is available exclusively at our official AKR store here.
These singles are Angelo’s first new music since 2021’s collaborative LP with Sufjan, A Beginner’s Mind, and his first solo work since 2020’s dual tracks “Santa Barbara” and “Blue,” the two new singles find Angelo exploring Greek and Roman history, monsters and ghouls, evil, death, faith, love, destruction, and opposing deities. These originals – recorded, produced, and mixed by Angelo – hint at a larger sound to come and a profound artistic evolution years in the making.
Angelo began work on “27” in 2019 while recording initial demos that would become A Beginner’s Mind, and features instrumental assistance from Sufjan. “Hologram” alternately disguises its depths in the body of a simple folk song. Starting in 5/4 time, the track’s octave-jumping melody morphs into a 3/4 waltz, before transitioning into a 4/4 chorus. The song’s lyrics depict dystopian and hellish landscapes painted with age long myths, games of telephone, what it means to be evil, and how evil itself is often misunderstood.
Angelo has released two videos accompanying the tracks, a video shot by Angelo himself and edited by Jessica Calleiro viewable below or here, and an animation of “Hologram” by Matt Czap which you can view below or here.A limited edition of translucent blue cassingles is available for purchase here.
Released today: Esther, by The Welcome Wagon
November 4th, 2022 , by John Beeler
We’re so proud to announce that Esther, the newest album from The Welcome Wagon, is available today, November 4th, wherever you listen to music. Click here to start listening.
You can also buy the CD or LP (in translucent pink vinyl) here. Also available are bundles that include a custom-screen printed tote (which you can buy for $15 here), a special hand-made cassette, and an archival quality 16″x24″ print of Monique’s artwork here.
Earlier this week, Monique and Vito and friends played a record release show – a “Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Record-Release Special!” – which you can watch here (or below). There’s special guests, grapes and cheez-it’s, Thanksgiving cake, gifts, music, and neighbors.
The album, Esther, is as much about homecoming as it is about making peace with—and a home in—uncertainty. “It became apparent to us that so many of these songs were about coming home, or leaving home, or reckoning with the homes we grew up in,” says Vito, “plus we wrote them in our home.”
“Making a home in this world is one of the hardest and most beautiful things any of us ever do,” says Monique. “Our music helps us to do that—to make a home, together with our family and friends—and we hope that somehow our songs might help others to make a home wherever they are, too.”
Join us Tuesday night for The Welcome Wagon – Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Record-Release Special!
November 1st, 2022 , by John Beeler
On Tuesday November 1st at 8pm EST, join us and The Welcome Wagon for the premiere of their “Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Record-Release Special!”
Filmed in a retired Lutheran chapel somewhere in the swamps of Jersey, this special features songs from the duo’s new album Esther, as well as some classics. Surrounded by friends and family in the audience, Monique & Vito are joined on stage by a host of talented musicians plus a few special guests – and hopefully you!
Sign up for the premiere by clicking here and join Monique & Vito live in the chat – and it’s not too late to pre-order the album, including a bundle with extra goodies. Click here to order.
Welcome Wagon release “Matthew 7:7,” new song and video from forthcoming album
October 12th, 2022 , by John Beeler
With a new album due November 4th, The Welcome Wagon have just released a new song and music video: “Matthew 7:7,” available for viewing below, or listening here.
Directed by Alex and Aaron Craig, the video features Monique and Vito Aiuto in a church in Brooklyn. This is the second Welcome Wagon video by the Craig Brothers, who also directed “Would You Come and See Me In New York?” in 2012. (The new video features a cameo from that video – see if you can spot her!)
As with the previous Welcome Wagon single, “Isaiah, California” (which you can hear here), Monique also created a painting to “Matthew 7:7.”
Monique began to paint after a decade away from the easel while locked down with Vito and their son Isaiah in their Brooklyn home. In isolation, she realized she’d neglected the very thing that connects her to herself, to God, and those around her, her gift, her purpose, art. To return to her creative practice, Monique recalled the sun drenched studios of The Cooper Union, where she attended from 1992 – 1996. Paintbrush in hand, she would listen to the muffled crackle of Psalms on tape cassettes home-recorded by her grandmother Esther. These recordings and paintings form the heart of this new album.
“Vito gave me the beautiful green Bible whose cover is in this work. He said, ‘Maybe you could use it in one of your paintings, maybe you could cut it up?’ I think God would appreciate that. There’s something about people being delighted by their own creativity that God really digs,” says Monique about the painting.Pre-orders for the album (translucent pink vinyl LP!) are here. Also available at that link are bundles, including a custom-screen printed tote, tickets to a very special Welcome Wagon release party livestream, a special hand-made cassette, and an archival quality 16″x24″ print of Monique’s artwork.