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Sufjan Stevens – Stream the New Album

The Ascension Out Now via Asthmatic Kitty

Sep 25, 2020 Sufjan Stevens
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Sufjan Stevens has released a new album, The Ascension, today via Asthmatic Kitty. Now that it’s out you can stream the whole thing below.

Previously Stevens shared The Ascension’s first single, 12-minute long closing track “America.” “America” was #1 on our Songs of the Week list. Then he shared the B-side for the “America” single, non-album track “My Rajneesh,” which also made our Songs of the Week list. Then he shared the album’s second single, “Video Game,” via a video for the song. “Video Game” was also one of our Songs of the Week. Then Stevens shared one last pre-release single from the album, “Sugar” (there were two versions of the song, the over seven-minute long album version and a four-minute long version shared via a music video). “Sugar” was also one of our Songs of the Week.

With a title like “America,” the first single’s timed release the day before July 4th was no accident and in a press release Stevens said it was “a protest song against the sickness of American culture in particular.”

“Don’t do to me what you did to America,” Stevens sings in the chorus to “America.” “Don’t do to me what you do to yourself.” A previous press release further said the song “is an indictment of a world crumbling around us—and a roadmap out of here.”

Stevens says The Ascension is “a call for personal transformation and a refusal to play along with the systems around us.”

And while “America” may seem written for these times, it was actually written six years ago, prior to the election of Donald Trump, when he was working on his last fully fledged studio solo album, 2015’s Carrie & Lowell. Stevens then re-recorded “America” and used it as a jumping off point for The Ascension. Musically, The Ascension seems much closer to the experimental and disorientating sounds of his 2010 album The Age of Adz, rather than the more delicate folk of Carrie & Lowell.

Stevens recorded most of The Ascension himself, on his computer, and basing it around a drum machine and synthesizers. Stevens calls it a “lush, editorial pop album,” one that finds us all at a “terrifying crossroad.”

“My objective for this album was simple: Interrogate the world around you,” Stevens adds. “Question anything that doesn’t hold water. Exterminate all bullshit. Be part of the solution or get out of the way. Keep it real. Keep it true. Keep it simple. Keep it moving.”

The Ascension is described as the official follow-up to Carrie & Lowell. Stevens has released plenty of music in the five years since Carrie & Lowell, but he hasn’t released a straight up solo album since then. In 2017 he teamed up with Nico Muhly, Bryce Dessner (of The National), and James McAlister for the collaborative album, Planetarium, which centered around space and the planets. The same year he also released a mixtape entitled The Greatest Gift, which featured unreleased outtakes, remixes, and iPhone demos from Carrie & Lowell. Back in March of this year Stevens teamed up with his stepfather Lowell Brams for the new collaborative instrumental album Aporia, via Asthmatic Kitty.

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