Sufjan Stevens Has Partnered With His Stepfather Lowell Brams

By Updated at 2020-03-29 02:06:46 +0000


Sufjan Stevens and Lowell Brams, “Aporia” (Asthmatic Kitty)

Always one to experiment, multi-instrumentalist Sufjan Stevens has partnered with his stepfather Lowell Brams to turn in his first bona fide bomb with the positively pulse-less “Aporia.”

“Little magical moments” is how Stevens describes this largely all-instrumental exploration constructed from synthesizer and horns and deconstructed guitars and, perhaps, bad dreams. And it doesn’t work.

It’s one thing to have an idea of this scope, but it’s another to actually convey it to a willing listener. Explaining it is folly. Guessing at its purpose is worse.

“Matronymic” sounds like 58 seconds of someone stuffing a didgeridoo into a toaster. If this is art, so be it. If it purports to be music, I’m left wondering how.

Perhaps the saving grace is “The Runaround,” a nicely delivered slow drive with a bass line and an electronic owl screech of a melody. Brams has been recording experimental music since 1986, and perhaps his best moments arrive here.

If anyone should be given the latitude of experimentation it is Stevens, a wonderfully talented sonic explorer. But this all-in-the-family album, “Aporia,” lacks his usual excellence.


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* Lowell Brams was raised in West Alexandria and Dayton, Ohio. He met Sufjan Stevens in Detroit, Michigan, in 1976, but Sufjan was eleven months old and doesn’t remember it. After Lowell and Sufjan’s mother married, they re-met in 1980 in Eugene, Oregon, have been friends since then, and started Asthmatic Kitty together in 1998. They are both insomniacs, the theme Sufjan suggested for his solo debut album.