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Sufjan Stevens et al



Even an educated guess informed by the names of those involved – Stevens, Bryce Dessner of The National, Nico Muhly and drummer James McAlister – won’t come close to capturing what the 76 minutes of Planetarium, a conceptual song cycle about the solar system, sound like. Early tracks offer an electronically embellished nod towards the piano-driven simplicity of Stevens’ Carrie & Lowell, but vocals suddenly pitch up or disappear behind vocoder effects. Opening track Jupiter burbles away beautifully until it’s shredded by machine-gun beats. It’s almost impossible to feel at ease during initial listens, so frequently are your expectations confounded. The orchestral leanings of Dessner and Muhly ebb and flow, taking flight during the majestic Pluto only for the track to then retreat to a Stevens vocal atop some skittering synth. 15-minute near-finale Earth is almost a précis of all that has gone before, leaving Mercury to conclude proceedings with a demure beauty. A true space oddity.

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About Long Live Vinyl

On sale 50 years to the day after The Beatles released their timeless masterpiece Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, issue 4 of Long Live Vinyl tells the full story of one of the greatest albums ever made, as well as taking an in-depth look at the new Anniversary edition masterminded by Giles Martin. Elsewhere, we round up the essential 40 jazz records, take a crate-digging trip to Orlando, get the lowdown on the new American Epic TV series with Jack White, T Bone Burnett, Elton John and Robert Redford, and Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours goes under the microscope in our Classic Album feature. We also meet Sonic Youth noisenik and record collector extraordinaire Thurston Moore, profile Classic Album Sundays and bring you the most comprehensive range of vinyl-related reviews anywhere!