Every week, John collects a trio of new releases to help you get lifted. This week features an instant classic from Björk and Arca, along with new ones from Baths and Sufjan Stevens.
Björk – Arisen My Senses
Björk’s new album Utopia is led off by “Arisen My Senses”, and after Arca’s production provided dark undercurrents on Vulnicura, there’s a sharp left turn to the wonderment here. Gurgling synths lay as a base to harp chords (90s Björk!) and exploding, ecstatic percussion; Björk launching into full-throated vocals just 30 seconds in (“Just that kiss / Is all there is / Weaving a mixtape / With every crossfade”). It’s almost overwhelming, and may be Arca’s best production ever — solo single or collaborative effort. The relationship between the two artists continued on Utopia for a reason, and even on the Icelandic legend’s “Tinder” album, the brooding IDM expert adapts for instant classics like this.
Sufjan Stevens – Drawn To The Blood (Fingerpicking Remix)
Sufjan Stevens’ Carrie & Lowell was a career highlight because it combined the heights of his two careers — that of a folk singer-songwriter, and of an indie electronic artist. The songs melded these styles together, taking a quiet but layered approach to intensely personal songs about Stevens’ late mother. With a collection of b-sides and remixes out now, The Greatest Gift, we get to see some of those Carrie & Lowell tracks in one world or the other. On the fingerpicking remix of “Drawn to the Blood”, Stevens is firmly in his mid-2000s Seven Swans mode — and for those who romanticize those early, hearty acoustic tracks (cough, me) it’s an absolute treat to hear this song reframed.
Baths – Extrasolar
It’s been four years since Baths’ opus in Obsidian, a dark album that approached subjects of suicide and depression with the deft and melodic tongue of singer Will Wiesenfeld. The follow-up, Romaplasm, takes itself far less seriously, and sees Weisenfeld relax into chirpy, fun indie songs like “Extrasolar”. The track is built on synthesizers from a pneumatic organ, and skips along like peak era Passion Pit (or, maybe more accurately, Michigan-era Sufjan Stevens). It’s a fleeting song, but it’s fun — something refreshing coming from Baths.