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Sufjan Stevens’ Silver & Gold (Xmas EP #’s 6-10)

2nd Oct 12 (Tue) Leave a comment

Update: the stop-motion Lego video is at the bottom.

Pre-order his upcoming Silver and Gold (Christmas EP boxset #2) on 5 CDs or 58 mp3.  The 5-vinyl set appears to be sold out (via bandcamp).

“Happy Holidays! On November 13, 2012, Asthmatic Kitty Records will release (another!) Christmas box-set extravaganza by the implacable singer/songwriter Sufjan StevensSilver & Gold: Songs for Christmas, Vols. 6-10, a compilation of 5 EPs recorded between 2006 and 2010.

Expanding on the tradition of the first box-set (Songs for Christmas, Vols. 1-5 from 2006), Silver & Gold is a generous document of five more years of holly-jolly jubilee — Christmas caroling, sleigh-bell-ringing, collaborative songwriting — undertaken by Sufjan and his various musical cohorts. Originally intended as gifts for family and friends, these musical snapshots have been re-mixed and re-assembled for the public in an exquisitely-designed gift box containing all the Yuletide pleasures money can buy: Christmas stickers, temporary tattoos, lyric sheets and chord charts, a paper ornament, an apocalyptic pull-out poster, photos, illustrations, and extensive liner notes—a veritable Christmas feast for the eyes and ears.

The album features collaborations with a running line-up of friends and musical peers, including Aaron and Bryce Dessner (The National), Richard Reed Parry (Arcade Fire), Cat Martino (Sufjan’s right-hand woman on all things Age of Adz), Sebastian Krueger (Inlets), Gabriel Kahane, Vesper Stamper, and members of Danielson (Daniel, Elin, Lilly, and Ida). Sufjan’s own indelible aesthetic and his tireless oblique strategies (in vain pursuit of the perfect Christmas song) maintain the album’s center of gravity, resulting in an abundant compilation (nearly 60 tracks) that investigates the canon of devotional hymns and holiday pop songs with reckless abandon (totaling nearly three hours of music).

Silver & Gold surpasses its predecessor both in style and scope by taking a wider stance and embracing a more liberal ethos. The box-set sails through musical fashions as various as ornaments on a Christmas tree (covering songs from John Dowland to Johnny Marks). The folksy old-world renaissance of Gloria (Vol. 6) gives way to bi-polar impertinence on I Am Santa’s Helper (Vol. 7). Christmas Infinity Voyage (Vol. 8) looks to the cosmos (and the drum machine) for inspiration, while Let It Snow (Vol. 9) and Christmas Unicorn (Vol.10) show a giddy return to form, unselfconsciously reveling in all the bubble-gum show tunes from the 1950s and 60s (“A Holly Jolly Christmas,” “Sleigh Ride,” and “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” to name a few).

There are also 18 original songs intermixed throughout (some of them co-written or wholly composed by guest collaborators). Sufjan’s contribution to the Christmas canon exhibits an ever-expanding canopy of approaches: there’s the moody and affectionate Christmas ballad (“Happy Karma Christmas”), an ecclesiastical take on the Burl Ives classic “Silver & Gold” (re-titled here as “Justice Delivers Its Gift”), the rowdy, garage-rock, rumble-in-the-snow-bank (“Mr. Frosty Man”) and the psychedelic pop-anthem (“Christmas Unicorn”) that attempts to reconcile new age magic, fantasy fiction, and the commodification of Christmas with expository deftness.

Silver & Gold is more than just another Christmas album, but an ongoing exercise in theme and variation, an annual tradition that offers this songwriter a chance to experiment with fashion and technique without taking himself too seriously. Sufjan’s playful (yet purposeful) expedition through the superficial landscape of sugar plum fairies and marshmallow fluff has produced an exuberant musical account of “all things Christmas” in the pursuit of the sublime. What distinguishes this project from the glut of Christmas albums saturating the market today are Sufjan’s unguarded enthusiasm for the genre itself (the sense of freedom he shows in celebrating with reverence and rebellion) and the belief that Christmas music contains a multiplicity of sacred and secular significance (from Baby Jesus to Babes in Toyland) that is ultimately ours for the taking. It’s safe to say that no one has taken it further than Sufjan, for better and for worse.

Thanks for listening and may all your Christmas dreams come true.

Silver & Gold will be available in digital download, a CD box-set available November 13th, with a limited edition of 2000 vinyl box-sets available later this year or early 2013.

A special edition of the vinyl boxset, which will include some extra surprises, is available to US/Canada/EU for pre-order:

http://sufjanstevens.bandcamp.com/album/silver-gold

The CD Boxset includes: (price not listed yet)

1. Five CD EPs

2. Christmas stickers

3. Temporary tattoos  (non-toxic & safe for children)

4. A paper ornament (self-assembly with directions)

5. An apocalyptic pull-out poster

6. Song lyrics and chord charts (sing along with your friends and enemies)

7. Hallucinogenic photographs and psychedelic graphic design (by Sufjan Stevens, drug-free since 1975)

8. Extensive liner notes (introductory salutations and an essay on the Christmas tree by Sufjan Stevens, and a few theological words on the End Times by Pastor Vito Aiuto)

The vinyl boxset includes: ($120 + S/H)

1. Five EPs on 6 vinyl discs

2. Christmas stickers

3. Temporary tattoos

4. A paper ornament

5. A 40-page Christmas songbook with vocal and piano reductions

6. A Christmas coloring book

7. Hallucinogenic photographs and psychedelic graphic design

8. Extensive liner notes

Whoa!

Sufjan Stevens Lego Movie

~Dan – np: Carla Kihlstedt & Matthias BossiNiagara Falling: Tales for the Stage, III

Dave Douglas on vinyl

23rd Jul 10 (Fri) 2 comments

So, Expand from Dave Douglas & Keystone – the second in the Spark of Being trilogy – is now up for pre-orderSpark of Being is Dave’s recent collaboration with experimental filmmaker Bill Morrison (read more here).  As a cool option, it’s going to be made available on vinyl – a first for Greenleaf Music.

I’ve got mine on pre-order… boxset and now vinyl.  Oh, and once pre-ordered… you get to download it, even though its release date is August 24th.

~Dan – np: Dave Douglas & KeystoneSpark of Being: Expand

Dave Douglas & Keystone’s Spark of Being

21st May 10 (Fri) 1 comment

The latest music from Dave Douglas & Keystone is a three-part release.

Part 1: SOUNDTRACK (out June 22nd)
Part 2: EXPAND (out August 24th)
Part 3: BURST (out September 21st)

All three releases were inspired by Douglas’ recent collaboration with experimental filmmaker Bill Morrison on the new multi-media project Spark of Being, and were written by Douglas for his electric sextet Keystone. The first release, to the aforementioned film, will be available exclusively through Greenleaf Music on June 22. Two additional releases, Expand and Burst, will follow later this year and feature Douglas and Keystone exploring and interpreting the themes of the film.

Spark of Being, which premiered on April 24 at Stanford University’s Lively Arts, combines a re-interpretation of the Frankenstein story featuring new, archival and distressed footage on film by experimental filmmaker Bill Morrison with an original score by Douglas. Spark of Being was commissioned by Stanford Lively Arts as the centerpiece of a campus-wide “Art + Invention” project throughout the 2009–10 season, and was also the culmination of a multi-stage residency at Stanford by Douglas and Morrison.

Expand is a fully realized new jazz album by Douglas and Keystone. It will be released by Greenleaf Music and distributed through traditional music channels on August 24. Greenleaf will follow with the release of Burst on September 21, which, like Expand, further develops the musical ideas of Spark of Being, without the parameters of a soundtrack composition. All three albums will also be available in a full box set on September 21.

Spark of Being began its life as a meditation on humanity and technology,” said Douglas. “Through the lens of contemporary music and film, Bill Morrison and I were both interested in a collaboration that showed the various uses for invention, from the quirky to the profound, from the benign to the murderous.”

Greenleaf Music rolled this out as part of their newly expanded subscription series.  The new subscription service offers expansions to their levels… newly included are subscriber-only podcasts, full streaming of the ENTIRE Greenleaf catalog, complimentary tickets to a Greenleaf artist’s show, meet & greet opportunities, et cetera.  My subscription was expiring anyway; so it was a great time to re-up. :)

~Dan – np: Maery LanahanLessen

Steven Wilson Cover Versions boxset

4th Feb 10 (Thu) 1 comment

Steven Wilson‘s 6th and final Cover Versions is finally coming out…

It comes with a special box to house all six discs.  The CDs are available via Burning Shed or Headphone DustCV5 & CV6 will be out on 7″ vinyl from Tonefloat when they’re ready.  For those that don’t know Steven Wilson… he’s the frontman of Porcupine Tree, co-leader of Blackfield and No-Man, and involved in many other side projects like IEM, Bass Communion, and more…

http://www.swhq.co.uk/

Two other quick newsbits…

The Maynard James Keenan (Tool/A Perfect Circle/Puscifer) & Eric Glomski documentary about Arizona wines, Blood Into Wine, is hitting limited silver screens in February.  A DVD release is scheduled for May 2010.  More info over at Blabbermouth.

Radiohead drummer Phil Selway is branching out and going on a solo tour in Italy/Spain/Portugal in March & April 2010.  More info over at Paste.

~Dan – np: Delhi 2 DublinDelhi 2 Dublin

My Brightest Diamond Remix EP #4

30th Nov 09 (Mon) Leave a comment

As previously reported here, the fourth and final remix EP for My Brightest Diamond‘s A Thousand Shark’s Teeth will finally be coming out – set for January 26, 2010.  It’s a remix EP by DM Stith and a “fancy box set” of all 4 EPs will also be coming out on Asthmatic Kitty at the same time.  All four remixers being: Alfred Brown, Son Lux, Roberto C. Lange, and DM Stith.

The Shark Demos, a 1KST pre-order special, will be available for free download beginning December 12th as well…

http://www.mybrightestdiamond.com/
http://www.asthmatickitty.com/

UPDATE: Shark Remix boxset now available for pre-order: http://asthmatickitty.com/shark-remixes

~Dan – np: Godspeed You! Black EmperorLift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven

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