Sufjan Stevens’ 2015 album Carrie & Lowell was a stunning triumph. Largely concerned with childhood memory and grief, Stevens chose to name the album in honor of his mother, Carrie Stevens, as well as his stepfather, Lowell Brams. Carrie Stevens passed back in 2012, but Sufjan has kept in contact with Brams ever since—in fact, Brams was integral to helping Sufjan co-found his record label, Asthmatic Kitty.
Wednesday, the duo announced they would be releasing a collaborative album. This isn’t the first time the two have collaborated on music. Back in 2008, they released the avant-garde album Music for Insomnia, a collection of songs that arose from the sleep condition the two share. It’s clear how well the two work together. In fact, their new album, Aporia, is a collection of songs that were refined from a large catalogue of recordings the two have been working on for many years during Brams’ visits to Sufjan’s home in New York. Of the recording, Sufjan said, “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.” After Brams’ retirement from Asthmatic Kitty, the two felt it was time to put some serious work into releasing Aporia.
The video for their new track, “The Unlimited,” sort of tells you all you need to know about the album through visual text: it’s a new-age album featuring the two in tandem. Aporia isn’t your standard Sufjan fare—in fact, it more closely resembles the experimental music Brams has been recording since the ‘80s. The track is spare, does not feature vocals, and is largely electronic. It’s less epic than, say, Illinois, and errs more to the cosmic, a la Stevens’ 2017 collaboration with Nico Muhly, Bryce Dessner and James McAlister, Planetarium.
Aporia also features a small retinue of collaborators, including Thomas Bartlett (Doveman), D.M. Stith, Nick Berry (Dots Will Echo), John Ringhofer (Half-handed Cloud) the aforementioned drummer McAlister, keyboardist and trombonist Steve Moore (Sunn O)))), guitarist Yuuki Matthews (The Shins) and vocalist Cat Martino.
The album is set for release on March 27. Check out the video for “The Unlimited” below. You can also revisit an old list of our favorite Sufjan Stevens tracks from 2015.