Sufjan Stevens- “A Little Lost” (Arthur Russell cover)

Sufjan Stevens all but abandoned his signature lavishly adorned indie folk style and made a bold foray into landscape of dark, glitchy, electronic music for his last proper (non-Christmas music) album, 2010’s “The Age of Adz.” Since then, he teamed up with rapper Serengeti and producer Son Lux earlier this year to create the hip hop/electronic/indie fusion project “Sisyphus,” and now he has resurfaced with a cover of Arthur Russell’s “A Little Lost.”

This cover would have fit right in on Sisyphus’ debut; it’s stylistically in line with the tracks on that album that showcase his vocals, but with an added sense of grandeur and jubilation that recalls his early albums, “Michigan” and “Illinoise.”

Stream the song below and read more about The Red Hot + Arthur Russell “Master Mix” compilation that will feature Sufjan and more than 20 other artists.

You don’t mess with the Sufjan, but you can remix him…

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If you know me well, you probably know that I’m just a little obsessed with Sufjan Stevens. His music is so unique and beautiful, which makes it challenging to remix him in a way that truly works. Over the past few months, I’ve trolled various music websites, youtube, and soundcloud in search of the best Sufjan remixes and found these gems. I’m sure I’ll keep adding new ones as I find them.

https://soundcloud.com/michaelbmann03/sets/sufjan-stevens-remixed

Wow! another sufjan stevens remix!

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…and this one’s especially awesome. It’s sounds kind of like what would result if Odesza or Two Inch Punch remixed Sufjan. This remix is from Scooter Oyama or “Go Yama” on Soundcloud, and it’s just delightful ear candy. It has a chill vibe and unique sound that must be heard.

Check it out here:

https://soundcloud.com/goyama/historical-ufo-society-sufjan?utm_source=soundcloud&utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=twitter

Hip Hop Meets Electro Meets Indie Folk with “Sisyphus,” a project that’s one giant, beautiful mashup

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Like combining chocolate with bacon or potato chips with soft serve ice cream, this strange collaboration between Chicago rapper Serengeti, New York producer Son Lux, and the elusive, genre defying indie prodigy, Sufjan Stevens doesn’t seem like it would work on the surface. But, put aside your skepticism and you will realize that it is oddly delightful and fascinating to listen to. The variety of beats and textures and the pairing of Serengeti’s witty, unconventional rapping with Sufjan’s dreamy singing coalesce to create a diverse album that will surely satisfy music fans with slightly offbeat tastes and cravings.

While the album is marked by a fair amount of dissonance and clashing styles, it manages to come across as playful and charming rather than jarring or inaccessible. And while they present some powerful lyrical themes, the three artists make it clear that they do not take themselves too seriously at all, a stance which is evident right from the bouncy opening track, “Calm It Down.” The overall vibe of the album may be one of experimental, freestyle fun, but several of the songs soar to beautiful, majestic heights; namely (and not surprisingly) those that more prominently feature Sufjan’s vocals: “Take Me,” “I Won’t Be Afraid,” and “Hardly Hanging On.”

Sufjan best captures the unlikeliness of this collaborative effort as he explains the origin of the group’s name, saying “We have so little in common but we have deep love for each other and we are pushing that stone together.” Combining their sounds, quirks, and talents to create a cohesive body of work may have seemed like a Sisyphean task, but together they managed to push that stone all the way up the hill, and they pulled off a gem of an album that defies categorization and that continues to surprise and delight with each listen.

Check it out here and support these guys. Hope they tour soon:

http://open.spotify.com/album/7cD7cpvMp636T6umawpsgK

Sufjan Stevens’ “Seven Swans,” Ten Years Later…

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“Seven Swans” was one of those albums that stayed in heavy rotation for months after I first bought it, and it has remained a staple in my music archives for the past ten years. The beautifully sparse banjo plucking and sweetly subdued vocals that open the first track, “All The Trees of The Field Will Clap Their Hands,” instantly captivated me and seemed to transport me to a different time and space when I closed my eyes and just listened. And ten years later, that feeling hasn’t changed; I still feel something magical and indescribable whenever I listen to this album. It still feels unique, relevant, and ahead of its time even now.

I’ve always been drawn to artists who are enigmatic and hard to categorize, so it made sense that I would fully appreciate Sufjan Stevens and his exquisite, ever evolving body of work. While I love all of his albums, “Seven Swans” is the one I listen to most often (and always straight through, from start to finish) because of its more stripped down, reflective nature. Although the instrumentation is intricately crafted, multi layered, and diverse, just as it is on “Michigan” or “Illinoise,” the sound and lyrics are more intimate and personal on this particular album. The songs on “Seven Swans” are the kind that quietly slip deep into your psyche, leaving you with a sort a dull ache you can’t quit articulate, but that feels so powerful and so good.

When many of my favorite albums from my high school and college years resurface in my listening, it’s for the sake of nostalgia, and the music feels frozen in a specific period of time. Certain albums and artists sound “so 2002 or 2004” when we listen to them 10 or 12 years later, but this isn’t the case with “Seven Swans.” The songs, and the way in which they seamlessly coalesce to create an artful tapestry of an album, sound timeless and ageless and not necessarily tied to one specific period of my young adulthood. Art is often imitated and an artist’s music often sounds reminiscent of another artist’s work, but I have yet to listen to an album or even a song that sounds reminiscent of “Seven Swans.” It’s such a singular, iconic work of art that is unlike just about anything that came before it, and would be almost impossible and futile to try to replicate or imitate. So, it will rightfully hold its place among my most treasured albums of all time, and I will always delight in listening to it from its subtle, sparse beginning to its elegant, epic finale.