Preview ‘Aporia,’ the New Experimental Album from Sufjan Stevens and His Stepfather, Lowell Brams (Out 3/27)

Rock Cellar Magazine StaffCategories:Latest News

Rock Cellar Magazine

On March 27, eclectic and relentlessly envelope-pushing songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Sufjan Stevens will release a new record — but Aporia won’t be in the vein of Stevens’ vast catalog of indie/pop soundscapes.

Instead, Aporia is an experiment in new age sounds, a collaboration between Stevens and Lowell Brams — co-founder of Asthmatic Kitty records (Stevens’ longtime label home), frequent collaborator and, also, Stevens’ stepfather.

The pair previewed the album with a short song titled “The Unlimited” on Wednesday:

Via the Asthmatic Kitty Records site, here’s an idea of what to expect with Aporia:

The 21 songs on Aporia are tightly crafted, resonating with a gem-like intensity, made in the spirit of the New Age composers who sanded off the edges of their synths’ sawtooth waves. Aporia approximates a rich soundtrack from an imagined sci-fi epic brimming with moody, hooky, gauzy synthesizer soundscapes, suggesting the progeny of a John Carpenter, Wendy Carlos, and Mike Oldfield marriage — but it stands apart from these touchstones and generates a meditative universe all its own. 

Sufjan Stevens has always used his personal experiences as inspiration for his music. His 2015 album Carrie & Lowell, for a recent example, was a touching musical tribute to his late mother, Carrie.

Via a news release:

Aporia signals a pivotal moment in Stevens and Brams’ relationship, which began in the early 1980s when Brams married Stevens’ late mother Carrie. Stevens and Brams maintained a strong relationship throughout Stevens’ adolescence and into adulthood, eventually founding Asthmatic Kitty Records together in 1999. In 2008, they collaborated on Music For Insomnia—a droning, heady collection of instrumental music referencing sleep aids and disturbances—as part of Asthmatic Kitty’s now-retired Library Catalog Music Series. In 2015, Asthmatic Kitty released Stevens’ 2015 LP Carrie & Lowell, which memorialized his late mother through the lens of her marriage to Brams.

More on the making-of process behind the Aporia project:

Stevens and Brams recorded Aporia over the course of the last several years during Brams’ visits to Stevens’ home in New York. As opposed to the dissonant and niche approach of Music For Insomnia, Aporia finds the collaborators intently shaping a more palatable, New Age-inspired album. After tracking hours upon hours of music, the pair began isolating the best moments and piecing them together into songs. “You know how it is with jamming: ninety percent of it is absolutely horrible, but if you’re just lucky enough, ten percent is magic. I just kept pulling out these little magical moments,” Stevens says. With dozens of takes to sort through, Brams’ announcement of his retirement from Asthmatic Kitty provided the impetus for Stevens and Brams to create a finished product. With the help of several frequent Asthmatic Kitty collaborators, including Thomas Bartlett (Doveman), D.M. Stith, Nick Berry (Dots Will Echo), John Ringhofer (Half-handed Cloud) drummer and longtime collaborator James McAlister, keyboardist and trombonist Steve Moore (Sunn O)))), guitarist Yuuki Matthews (The Shins) and vocalist Cat Martino, Stevens and Brams put the finishing touches on Aporia.

In addition to the premiere of “The Unlimited,” a playlist of tracks that helped inspired Aporia was also debuted. Listen to that below, via Spotify:

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