It's five years since Sufjan Stevens released his epic masterwork Illinois.
The much-discussed "50 states" album project has turned out to be mere myth-making, but now, finally, after EPs, extras, re-releases and orchestral works comes The Age of Adz, the full-length follow-up to Illinois. The 11-track record isn't released until 12 October but it's streaming at NPR's indispensable music site in their "Exclusive First Listen" series, ind.pn/9vbiZm. The new record eases up on the banjos and the quiet delicateness, but pretty much throws everything else into the mix: strings, beats, screeching guitars and even auto-tune. "It's also more mysterious and less precious than anything Stevens has made up to now," says NPR. I would add that on initial listens it sounds brilliant, bizarre, maddening, tiring and then brilliant again.
Producer plugs his own leak
Last week, the producer Diplo leaked a previously unreleased track he made with long-time collaborator MIA. Writing on Twitter (@diplo), he said, "a lost/new/crazy song i did with @_M_I_A_ – this is only demo... i might leak the real version if u guys want http://4thepeopleon theboat.com/." As stated, the track is only a demo and sounds suitably half-formed, but it's quite a nice low-key dash of stuttering electro with a relatively understated delivery from MIA in her usual sing-song rap style.
The dark knight of pop videos returns
With his dark vision, Chris Cunningham has directed some of the most memorable music videos ever made, for the likes of Aphex Twin, Björk and Portishead. Somehow, four years have elapsed since the British film-maker last made a video but he now returns with a suitably dark promo for Gil Scott-Heron's dark "New York Is Killing Me", with added audio remixing by Cunningham, too. The video was premiered at MoMA in the aforementioned city and is streaming on their website, ind.pn/dBe66P. MoMA also relays the intriguing news that Cunningham is currently working on an audiovisual album. I suggest it might get dark.
Noisy New Yorkers get rootsy
Another recent video worth looking out for features New York art-rockers Les Savy Fav. The band are more accustomed to making a racket but in acoustic session videos for www.themahoganyblog.com, pegged to the recent release of their fifth studio album, Root for Ruin, they stripped things right back. The highlight was a rendition of "Let's Get Out of Here" made with plastic cups and some small electronic gizmos. A neat trick: ind.pn/dqYhsi.