Asthmatic Kitty label mates Sufjan Stevens and Angelo De Augustine have shared their new collaborative album A Beginner’s Mind. Stream the gorgeous collection of folk and fantasy-inspired songs below via Apple Music and Spotify.
A Beginner’s Mind is the first album Stevens and De Augustine have written together, although the two have been friends for a long time prior. To pen the 14-song tracklist, they camped out in a friend’s cabin in upstate New York for a month-long songwriting sabbatical. They began watching a movie to unwind each night, and it quickly influenced their work, with each song being loosely based on a popular film.
In the months leading up to the album’s release, the indie folk duo teased A Beginner’s Mind by releasing a handful of singles in advance: “Reach Out,” “Olympus,” “Back to Oz,” and “Fictional California.” Earlier this month, they also shared “Cimmerian Shade” and “You Give Death a Bad Name,” both of which drew inspiration from classic horror thrillers.
During an exclusive interview with Consequence, Stevens and De Augustine explained why they decided to base these songs off of films instead of completely original ideas or personal experiences. “It was initially kind of a happy accident. But in hindsight, I’m wondering if the films were almost like a safe meeting ground for us so that we weren’t each independently or individually feeling sort of responsible for coming up with content,” said Stevens. “I think that that allowed us both to kind of dispense of our selves and our experiences or whatever, and just start with something completely and utterly new. Once we did that, once we determined what the conceit was, then we had a shared objective. We were teammates.”
In her review of the album, Consequence contributor Laura Dzubay described A Beginner’s Mind as a collection of songs where “varied instrumentation acts as a sonic guide, allowing the emphasis to rest not on musical experimentation, but on the album’s lyrics and general tone of kind contemplation.” As she points out, Stevens and De Augustine’s gentle vocal styles lend each duet “a feeling of tenderness and proximity” that works perfectly throughout the record.
Pre-orders for physical copies of A Beginner’s Mind are still ongoing over at the Asthmatic Kitty Records website, including a special vinyl pressing in “Beginner’s Mind Ocean Blue” that matches the record’s artwork. Check out the full tracklist and cover art for it after the jump.
A Beginner’s Mind Artwork:
A Beginner’s Mind Tracklist:
01. Reach Out
02. Lady Macbeth In Chains
03. Back To Oz
04. The Pillar Of Souls
05. You Give Death A Bad Name
06. Beginner’s Mind
08. Murder And Crime
09. (This Is) The Thing
10. It’s Your Own Body And Mind
11. Lost In The World
12. Fictional California
13. Cimmerian Shade