I’m surprised I’ve been able to restrain myself and not write more about Sufjan Stevens on this blog. This whole damn thing could be about Sufjan, ask my roommates or family, I never shut up about him! It would probably be a hybrid of Between Hipsters and God There is Sufjan Stevens, an RSS feed of his Tumblr, and Google Maps screenshots of his apartment in Brooklyn. Kidding! I don’t know what his address is… or else I would have made a shrine to him outside of it (maybe a bust of him made out of bubblegum a la Helga Pataki).
ANYWAY, in November he released Silver & Gold, a five-disc collection of Christmas music recorded from 2007-2011. This release follows Songs for Christmas (recorded 2001-2006), so we have a full decade of Sufjan Christmases, folks! Unlike his first collection of Songs for Christmas, the latter half of the aughts got a bit, uh, kooky for Mr. Stevens. He veered in the futuristic, chaotic direction featured in 2010’s The Age of Adz. it’s interesting to listen to his work and hear how his sound has dramatically evolved, from banjo and flute to drum machines and auto-tune (seriously).
One of my favorite discs from Silver & Gold was Christmas Infinity Voyage (2008), which shows the experimental, electronic direction he was heading in Adz. “Do You Hear What I Hear?” exemplifies Stevens’ skills in refurbishing seemingly soul-less Musak tracks, turning the choral bore into an metallic, psychedelic 9 minutes of near-insanity.
One respite from the madness is “Christmas in the Room,” which features that beautiful/sad hybrid that Mr. Stevens has crafted so masterfully (see “Casimir Pulaski Day,” “To Be Alone with You,” “John Wayne Gacy”). The video contrasts with the acoustic sound through a set of vibrant abstract images set against darkness, keeping in line with the spirit of Christmas Infinity Voyage‘s futuristic feel.
I visited my family in Portland for Christmas, and as our tradition of the last few years, we had a Sufjan-themed Xmas, dancing around to Infinity Voyage and his just-released Chopped & Scrooged rap mixtape (yes, that exists). While playing around with lights I noticed the delightful blurring effects against the Portland skyline, and forced my family to go onto the freezing sixteenth floor balcony for a midnight celestial photo shoot. (There was champagne involved, it wasn’t THAT bad.)
‘You must be a Christmas tree – you light up the room.’
We had a good time playing around and seeing the unexpected results from the light patterns… hopefully we captured a bit of Sufjan’s seemingly unending exuberance.
If you care to listen to more of Sufjan’s ** HOLIDAY MAGIC ** (even though, uh, it’s January), it’s all available to listen to on his website for free. He released it on the public domain for your listening pleasure because he is just that kind of guy. SUFJ YOU’RE KILLIN’ ME!
Objects (and people, and things) found on the streets of San Francisco and Berkeley; spontaneous moments of whimsy and intrigue. A song for each picture to capture the mood.
“Beware.” Woolsey Street, Berkeley, April 2012. Musical Accompaniment: “What Do You Expect,” El Perro Del Mar.
“Sprouting.” Arguello Street, February 2012. Musical Accompaniment: “Phone Call,” Jon Brion.
TUNE-YARDS gangsta- whokill
RATATAT neckbrace- lp4
GANG GANG DANCE mindkilla- eye contact
FRIENDLY FIRES live those nights tonight- pala
HORRORS sea within a sea- primary colors
GREENHORNES saying goodbye- s/t
WHITE STRIPES dead leaves and the dirty ground- white blood cells
KAREN ELSON the ghost who walks- the ghost who walks
THE BLACK BELLES what can i do?- s/t
THE BLACK KEYS have love will travel- the moan
TY SEGALL my sunshine- melted
THE RACONTEURS steady as she goes
BLACK LIPS bone marrow- arabia mountain
JEFFERSON AIRPLANE plastic fantastic lover- surrealistic pillow
MMJ victory dance- circuital
THE CHARLATANS we’re not on the same trip
DEERHUNTER revival- halcyon digest
BLACK KEYS howlin for you- brothers
CAPTAIN BEEFHART AND THE MAGIC BAND too much time
DAVID BOWIE five years- ziggy stardust
BLACK MOTH SUPER RAINBOW gold splatter- eating us
BROADCAST AND THE FOCUS GROUP oh you chatterbox- investigate witch cults of the radio age
THE SEA AND THE CAKE four corners- one bedroom
VELVET UNDERGROUND oh! sweet nothin- loaded
COUNTRY JOE AND THE FISH rock and soul music- together
CONGRATS kiyo and andrea on winnin tickets to david bazan (pedro the lion)/ rocky votolato at the independent!