Sufjan Stevens is known for his sad bastard music. Indeed, when his mom passed away, he wrote one of his most poignant devastating albums ever, The beautiful Carrie and Lowell. Scrolling through the Apple Music Out Now lists I stumbled across this little beauty. Highly unexpected and a stand out between the shlock and the horror. Planetarium is a colab album inspired by the cosmos. How hipster does that sound?
The album features Bryce Desner of The National, drummer James McAlister, American contemporary classical music composer and arranger Nico Muhly and Sufjan Stevens.
First click play on Neptune
and you are immediately transported to a far off galaxy – (sorry, I had to). Seering and moving piano mixes with Sufjan’s honey vocals and makes me think he shouldve ditched his guitar years ago and focused on the keys. It’s uplifting and otherworldly and reminiscent of bands like ELO. As the album journeys through different styles and techniques and classic overtures, it dips into weird instrumental territory with songs like Black Energy making you feel like you’re literally floating in space heading towards a super massive black hole. Although mostly an instrumental album the songs where Sufjan sings are standouts. It’s a definite hearkening back to 70s prog rock and eerie sound landscapes, splattered with sublime moments of joy. Mercury ends the album off with a big bang. Refreshing to have something so unique and original to listen to to get through the dreary dredge of the day. JO