Four years ago, a performance piece called Planetarium popped up at a few concert halls. The show had horn players, a string quartet, lasers and orbs suspended above the stage. It was a trippy ride, created by Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly, and James McAlister.
The performance is now an album of the same name, exploring nearly all aspects of the solar system. “Saturn” is our first taste of that concept.
Listen to those gliding, wheelhouse synths. Tell me you don’t see Saturn’s rings spinning in your mind. But this song isn’t as soothing as its namesake appears. The lyrics look at the Titan Cronus, known as Saturn by the Romans. Sufjan’s warped voice sounds otherworldly and corrupt. “Melancholy creature/Paranoid secret/Hypothetic victim of prediction/I’ll consume the child that trails me,” he sings, his voice echoing into the ether. Through it all, the music builds and builds and builds, swirling out into space.
Planetarium will be out on June 9 through 4AD records.