Sufjan Stevens can only make Sufjan Stevens music, which is all fine and dandy because said music is some of the most beautiful to be created by humankind. Stevens is also the kind of irreverent person to release an ambitious contemporary classical album about astronomy then announce he's dropping a mixtape, both in the same year. That mixtape, The Greatest Gift, is coming out on October 20 and consists of outtakes from the sessions for 2015's heartbreaking Carrie & Lowell, along with remixes and stray iPhone demos. Stevens has now shared the first unreleased song from the tape, a seven-minute epic called "Wallowa Lake Monster."
In typical fashion, the song's lyrics end up encompassing Oregonian folklore, tabletop RPGs, and death. Also characteristically, it strikes out into sonic territory belonging to both folk and ambient music, culminating in an extended choral outro that sounds like the sun rising on one of those picturesque Middle American landscapes Stevens is fond of. This song would likely have been too grand for the more reserved Carrie & Lowell, but it's great that its glory has been unveiled for all of us to bask in. Listen to "Wallowa Lake Monster" above.
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