Sufjan Stevens & Angelo De Augustine – “Reach Out” & “Olympus”
Sufjan Stevens has been making new music at a wild pace lately. Less than a year ago, Stevens released the ambitious LP The Ascension. Shortly after that album’s release, Stevens’ biological father died, and he responded to that loss by making Convocations, a five-volume work of emotive instrumental music. Convocations just came out two months ago, and now Stevens has announced another new album, set to arrive this fall. It’s called A Beginner’s Mind, and it’s a full-album collaboration with Angelo De Augustine, a folk-pop musician from Los Angeles who has worked with Stevens many times over the years.
A Beginner’s Mind came out of a songwriting sabbatical that Stevens and De Augustine took together at an upstate New York cabin. After spending days working on their own music, Stevens and De Augustine would watch movies together, and those movies came to inspire the songs that they would write together. They also cite the Zen Buddhist concept of shoshin, the I-Ching, and Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies as inspirations, and the cover art comes from the Ghanian artist Daniel Anum Jasper, a pioneer in the painting art used to advertise guerrilla Hollywood movie screenings in Ghana in the ’80s.
The movies that served as inspiration include Night Of The Living Dead, Silence Of The Lambs, Point Break, All About Eve, The Thing, and Wings Of Desire. There’s also “an S&M dirge inspired by Hellraiser III, a peppy campfire song based on the direct-to-video cheerleader rom-com Bring It On Again, and a fem-power lo-fi folk anthem based on Spike Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It,” according to press materials.
Stevens and De Augustine have shared two songs from the album. “Reach Out” has a video made up of VHS-camcorder footage that Stevens and De Augustine shot in their respective homes of New York and California, and it stars their dogs Joku and Charlie. “Olympus” doesn’t have a video with cute dogs, so you’re going to have to be content with the music itself. Both songs are gorgeous, ornate, fragile folk-pop songs, and they find Stevens and De Angelo singing together in close harmony. These two songs feel like a throwback to the gorgeous soft-sigh music that made Stevens a beloved indie figure in the first place. Check out those two songs and the tracklist for A Beginner’s Mind below.
01 “Reach Out”
02 “Lady Macbeth In Chains”
03 “Back To Oz”
04 “The Pillar Of Souls”
05 “You Give Death A Bad Name”
06 “Beginner’s Mind”
08 “Murder And Crime”
09 “(This Is) The Thing”
10 “It’s Your Own Body And Mind”
11 “Lost In The World”
12 “Fictional California”
13 “Cimmerian Shade”
A Beginner’s Guide is out 9/25 on Asthmatic Kitty.