Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly & James McAlister – Mercury

Sufjan Stevens, The National’s Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly, and Sufjan’s drummer James McAlister release their collaborative album Planetarium on June 9 via 4AD.

A completely reimagined version of the project originally undertaken years ago and performed in various iterations around the world, Planetarium unites Stevens’ vocals, McAlister’s beats, Dessner’s guitar performance, and Muhly’s instrumental compositions—part rock odyssey, part electronic experiment, part classical opus.

Conceptually, Planetarium revolves around the cosmic ideas Stevens’ lyrics explore: mythology, astrology, science, astronomy and the intricacies of human consciousness.

The album began when Dutch concert hall Muziekgebouw Eindhoven commissioned Muhly to create a new piece and he enlisted friends Dessner, Stevens and McAlister, all of whom had been looking for the opportunity to collaborate on a larger scale.

After sketching the framework of the song cycle and performing the piece as a band—flanked by a string quartet and seven trombones—in various forms, the quartet put the project on hold for several years. Returning to the raw material in 2016, Stevens and McAlister reversed their typical process, taking recordings of the live show and adapting to the studio. “We had recorded all the arrangements and the live parts in a studio after our last performance,” says Stevens, “so years later when we all kind of settled down, we said, ‘let’s open Pandora’s box.’”

Planetarium is out June 9 on 4AD. Pre-order here.

Dauwd – Leitmotiv

Dauwd has announced his forthcoming debut album, Theory Of Colours, will be released on June 2 via Ninja Tune imprint Technicolour.

An integral member of the Berlin night and radio show African Acid Is The Future, Dauwd Al Hilali’s releases have been met with as much expectation as they have intrigue. Spending the last few years out of the limelight and in his Berlin studio, Dauwd’s music has continued to ripple through clubs as his singular, sometimes thrillingly uncertain process of experimentation has continued. Pulling inspiration from electronic music legends like Terry Riley, Raymond Scott, and the seminal Radiophonic Workshop period in the late 50’s and 60’s, “Theory of Colours” draws a unique line between influences as disparate as hazy Detroit house and early German Krautrock.

A skilled musical engineer, Dauwd’s ability to balance between such sprawling genres is, paradoxically, an exercise in restriction, finding creative freedom in limiting his own gear. It’s clear he’s no stranger to focus; sonically, “Theory of Colours” runs tightly wound, its loops intentional and layers meticulously built. Spanning a succinct forty minutes across seven tracks, Dauwd’s fondness for delays and love for vintage synthesizers characterize much of the album, which was recorded over the course of a year primarily in the Utrecht based Sonar Traffic studio that houses one of the largest collections of vintage synths and other modular equipment in all of Europe. The result is an intricate, scintillating journey that hovers between familiar and strange. For many artists, that enigmatic gap is one that’s anxiously avoided — the fear of misidentity as a musician more important than the music itself. Throughout “Theory of Colours”, it’s a space Dauwd comfortably renders as his own.

Dauwd releases Theory Of Colours on June 2 via Technicolour. Pre-order here.