Which reminds me: “America” is out now! Sufjan calls it “a protest song against the disease of American culture in particular”. He adds that L’Ascension as a whole is “a call to personal transformation and a refusal to play with the systems around us”. The soft electronic canvas of the track slowly builds up to intense peaks, highlighted by the refrain, “Don’t do to me what you did in America!” At the beginning, Sufjan sighs: “I loved you / I cried / I am ashamed to admit that I no longer believe. ”
Especially given his string of outspoken comments at the time of Donald Trump’s inauguration, one would think that the sentiments expressed in “America” would be a natural consequence of the political dystopia of the past decade. But in a statement accompanying the release, he explains that this song and its non-album B-side “My Rajneesh” actually date back to the Carrie & Lowell sessions:
I was blown away by the song when I first wrote it. Because I felt vaguely mean and miles away from everything else Carrie & Lowell. So I put it aside. But when I dug up the demo a few years later, I was shocked by its foreknowledge. I could no longer dismiss him as angry and flippant. The song clearly articulated something prophetic and true, even though I couldn’t identify it at the time. It was then that I saw a clear path to what I should do next.
L’Ascension was released on 09/25 on Ashthmatic Kitty. Pre-order it here. The single “America” b / w “My Rajneesh” was released on 07/31, but the physical run is already complete.