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Sufjan Stevens|Convocations

Convocations

Sufjan Stevens

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Convocations is a rare, original musical adventure. It brings together five movements or chapters, each an instrumental album with its own title: MeditationsLamentationsRevelationsCelebrations and Incantations. In all, this work of exploration lasts around two and a half hours. Sufjan Stevens describes it as "a two-and-a-half-hour electronic/ambient mass for our present age of anxiety and dread." These 49 pieces communicate many different feelings, emotions and sensations. They draw inspiration from a range of different worlds, and take us from dream to dissonance, from repetition to long calm stretches, from sounds of innocence to sounds of perversion: Stevens is leading us on a true interior voyage. These five states reflect the moods that we can go through in our lives. They cycle through the successive thoughts and moods that fluctuate within our hearts, sometimes subconsciously. This is what makes Stevens' project fascinating and of relevance for the present day: but there is no hiding the historical influences which are at work here, in particular figures from the 1970s such as Brian Eno, Klaus Schulze, Morton Subotnick, or Philip Glass and Steve Reich. The structure of sounds and emotions undergirding this work resembles a cathedral. Indeed, the primary inspiration for this vast project was the death of the musician's father in September 2020, two days after the release of his album The Ascension. Convocations and its many offshoots are a response to events and an homage to a departed father. But above all, beyond even Stevens's own tragedy, they represent an attempt to create a work of art which is in dialogue with the idea of death (and this is not a first attempt: the artist recorded an album, Carrie & Lowell following the death of his mother in 2015). This way of approaching death as an absolute allows this project to go beyond Sufjan Stevens's personal drama and acquire a universal character. That universality comes across when we listen to this album: it touches the audience deep inside. This music can even enter our souls, if we want to let it, and if we give it our full attention (and yes, that can be hard given the ubiquity of the mobile phone and its enthralling black mirror). We can also experience this work visually, on Sufjan Stevens's YouTube channel: he has uploaded all of Convocations and juxtaposed it with abstract moving paintings by Melissa Fuentes, animated by Otto Sánchez. Today, in spite of the increasing dematerialisation of music and the new possibilities that this offers, the format of the single still imposes a certain degree of conformity on how music is presented and sold. But with Convocations, Sufjan Stevens has been able to reconnect with the utopias of the 1970s: with a vision of free music that exists first and foremost as a sensory and mental experience. © Yan Céh/Qobuz

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Convocations

Sufjan Stevens

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1
Meditation I
00:03:40

Sufjan Stevens, Mixer, MainArtist

2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records 2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records

2
Meditation II
00:02:27

Sufjan Stevens, Mixer, MainArtist

2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records 2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records

3
Meditation III
00:04:04

Sufjan Stevens, Mixer, MainArtist

2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records 2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records

4
Meditation IV
00:02:10

Sufjan Stevens, Mixer, MainArtist

2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records 2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records

5
Meditation V
00:02:10

Sufjan Stevens, Mixer, MainArtist

2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records 2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records

6
Meditation VI
00:02:16

Sufjan Stevens, Mixer, MainArtist

2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records 2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records

7
Meditation VII
00:02:34

Sufjan Stevens, Mixer, MainArtist

2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records 2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records

8
Meditation VIII
00:01:48

Sufjan Stevens, Mixer, MainArtist

2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records 2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records

9
Meditation IX
00:02:12

Sufjan Stevens, Mixer, MainArtist

2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records 2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records

10
Meditation X
00:03:40

Sufjan Stevens, Mixer, MainArtist

2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records 2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records

DISC 2

1
Lamentation I
00:03:48

Sufjan Stevens, Mixer, MainArtist

2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records 2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records

2
Lamentation II
00:02:25

Sufjan Stevens, Mixer, MainArtist

2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records 2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records

3
Lamentation III
00:03:17

Sufjan Stevens, Mixer, MainArtist

2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records 2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records

4
Lamentation IV
00:01:59

Sufjan Stevens, Mixer, MainArtist

2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records 2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records

5
Lamentation V
00:04:11

Sufjan Stevens, Mixer, MainArtist

2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records 2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records

6
Lamentation VI
00:04:43

Sufjan Stevens, Mixer, MainArtist

2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records 2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records

7
Lamentation VII
00:01:51

Sufjan Stevens, Mixer, MainArtist

2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records 2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records

8
Lamentation VIII
00:03:35

Sufjan Stevens, Mixer, MainArtist

2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records 2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records

9
Lamentation IX
00:03:29

Sufjan Stevens, Mixer, MainArtist

2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records 2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records

10
Lamentation X
00:01:57

Sufjan Stevens, Mixer, MainArtist

2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records 2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records

DISC 3

1
Revelation I
00:03:21

Sufjan Stevens, Mixer, MainArtist

2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records 2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records

2
Revelation II
00:02:53

Sufjan Stevens, Mixer, MainArtist

2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records 2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records

3
Revelation III
00:02:01

Sufjan Stevens, Mixer, MainArtist

2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records 2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records

4
Revelation IV
00:04:09

Sufjan Stevens, Mixer, MainArtist

2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records 2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records

5
Revelation V
00:02:51

Sufjan Stevens, Mixer, MainArtist

2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records 2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records

6
Revelation VI
00:03:34

Sufjan Stevens, Mixer, MainArtist

2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records 2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records

7
Revelation VII
00:04:03

Sufjan Stevens, Mixer, MainArtist

2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records 2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records

8
Revelation VIII
00:02:51

Sufjan Stevens, Mixer, MainArtist

2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records 2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records

9
Revelation IX
00:04:38

Sufjan Stevens, Mixer, MainArtist

2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records 2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records

10
Revelation X
00:04:18

Sufjan Stevens, Mixer, MainArtist

2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records 2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records

DISC 4

1
Celebration I
00:02:19

Sufjan Stevens, Mixer, MainArtist

2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records 2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records

2
Celebration II
00:05:55

Sufjan Stevens, Mixer, MainArtist

2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records 2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records

3
Celebration III
00:03:09

Sufjan Stevens, Mixer, MainArtist

2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records 2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records

4
Celebration IV
00:03:22

Sufjan Stevens, Mixer, MainArtist

2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records 2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records

5
Celebration V
00:02:59

Sufjan Stevens, Mixer, MainArtist

2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records 2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records

6
Celebration VI
00:04:01

Sufjan Stevens, Mixer, MainArtist

2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records 2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records

7
Celebration VII
00:03:41

Sufjan Stevens, Mixer, MainArtist

2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records 2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records

8
Celebration VIII
00:03:25

Sufjan Stevens, Mixer, MainArtist

2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records 2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records

9
Celebration IX
00:01:35

Sufjan Stevens, Mixer, MainArtist

2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records 2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records

10
Celebration X
00:04:10

Sufjan Stevens, Mixer, MainArtist

2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records 2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records

DISC 5

1
Incantation I
00:02:17

Sufjan Stevens, Mixer, MainArtist

2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records 2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records

2
Incantation II
00:01:58

Sufjan Stevens, Mixer, MainArtist

2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records 2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records

3
Incantation III
00:01:36

Sufjan Stevens, Mixer, MainArtist

2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records 2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records

4
Incantation IV
00:02:00

Sufjan Stevens, Mixer, MainArtist

2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records 2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records

5
Incantation V
00:03:15

Sufjan Stevens, Mixer, MainArtist

2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records 2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records

6
Incantation VI
00:01:49

Sufjan Stevens, Mixer, MainArtist

2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records 2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records

7
Incantation VII
00:01:53

Sufjan Stevens, Mixer, MainArtist

2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records 2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records

8
Incantation VIII
00:02:55

Sufjan Stevens, Mixer, MainArtist

2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records 2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records

9
Incantation IX
00:04:28

Sufjan Stevens, Mixer, MainArtist

2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records 2021 Asthmatic Kitty Records

Album Description

Convocations is a rare, original musical adventure. It brings together five movements or chapters, each an instrumental album with its own title: MeditationsLamentationsRevelationsCelebrations and Incantations. In all, this work of exploration lasts around two and a half hours. Sufjan Stevens describes it as "a two-and-a-half-hour electronic/ambient mass for our present age of anxiety and dread." These 49 pieces communicate many different feelings, emotions and sensations. They draw inspiration from a range of different worlds, and take us from dream to dissonance, from repetition to long calm stretches, from sounds of innocence to sounds of perversion: Stevens is leading us on a true interior voyage. These five states reflect the moods that we can go through in our lives. They cycle through the successive thoughts and moods that fluctuate within our hearts, sometimes subconsciously. This is what makes Stevens' project fascinating and of relevance for the present day: but there is no hiding the historical influences which are at work here, in particular figures from the 1970s such as Brian Eno, Klaus Schulze, Morton Subotnick, or Philip Glass and Steve Reich. The structure of sounds and emotions undergirding this work resembles a cathedral. Indeed, the primary inspiration for this vast project was the death of the musician's father in September 2020, two days after the release of his album The Ascension. Convocations and its many offshoots are a response to events and an homage to a departed father. But above all, beyond even Stevens's own tragedy, they represent an attempt to create a work of art which is in dialogue with the idea of death (and this is not a first attempt: the artist recorded an album, Carrie & Lowell following the death of his mother in 2015). This way of approaching death as an absolute allows this project to go beyond Sufjan Stevens's personal drama and acquire a universal character. That universality comes across when we listen to this album: it touches the audience deep inside. This music can even enter our souls, if we want to let it, and if we give it our full attention (and yes, that can be hard given the ubiquity of the mobile phone and its enthralling black mirror). We can also experience this work visually, on Sufjan Stevens's YouTube channel: he has uploaded all of Convocations and juxtaposed it with abstract moving paintings by Melissa Fuentes, animated by Otto Sánchez. Today, in spite of the increasing dematerialisation of music and the new possibilities that this offers, the format of the single still imposes a certain degree of conformity on how music is presented and sold. But with Convocations, Sufjan Stevens has been able to reconnect with the utopias of the 1970s: with a vision of free music that exists first and foremost as a sensory and mental experience. © Yan Céh/Qobuz

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