On November 13th, Asthmatic Kitty Records will release the second Christmas-themed box set from Sufjan Stevens. Expanding on 2006’s Songs for Christmas, Silver & Gold: Songs for Christmas, Vols. 6-10 compiles five EPs recorded between 2006 and 2010.
Originally intended as gifts for family and friends, these EPs comprise covers of holiday classics in addition to 18 original compositions, all of which have been re-mixed and re-assembled for the box set. Joining Stevens on the recordings are various longtime collaborators, including Aaron and Bryce Dessner (The National), Richard Reed Parry (Arcade Fire), Cat Martino, Sebastian Krueger (Inlets), Gabriel Kahane, Vesper Stamper, and members of Danielson (Daniel, Elin, Lilly, and Ida).
Along with the music, each box set includes Christmas stickers, temporary tattoos, lyric sheets and chord charts, a paper ornament, an apocalyptic pull-out poster, photos, illustrations, and extensive liner notes. Sufjy really hooked you up this go-around!
Silver & Gold will be available digitally and as a CD box set. A limited edition of 2000 vinyl box sets will be released later this year or early 2013. Pre-orders are ongoing
Below, you’ll find a stream of Stevens’ 12-minute, original composition, “Christmas Unicorn”, plus a full product description as offered by an issued press release.
The box-set sails through musical fashions as various as ornaments on a Christmas tree (covering songs from John Dowland to Johnny Marks). The folksy old-world renaissance of Gloria (Vol. 6) gives way to bi-polar impertinence on I Am Santa’s Helper (Vol. 7). Christmas Infinity Voyage (Vol. 8) looks to the cosmos (and the drum machine) for inspiration, while Let It Snow (Vol. 9) and Christmas Unicorn (Vol.10) show a giddy return to form, unselfconsciously reveling in all the bubble-gum show tunes from the 1950s and 60s (“A Holly Jolly Christmas,” “Sleigh Ride,” and “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” to name a few).
There are also 18 original songs intermixed throughout (some of them co-written or wholly composed by guest collaborators). Sufjan’s contribution to the Christmas canon exhibits an ever-expanding canopy of approaches: there’s the moody and affectionate Christmas ballad (“Happy Karma Christmas”), an ecclesiastical take on the Burl Ives classic “Silver & Gold” (re-titled here as “Justice Delivers Its Gift”), the rowdy, garage-rock, rumble-in-the-snow-bank (“Mr. Frosty Man”) and the psychedelic pop-anthem (“Christmas Unicorn”) that attempts to reconcile new age magic, fantasy fiction, and the commodification of Christmas with expository deftness.
The CD boxset includes:
1. Five CD EPs
2. Christmas stickers
3. Temporary tattoos (non-toxic & safe for children)
4. A paper ornament (self-assembly with directions)
5. An apocalyptic pull-out poster
6. Song lyrics and chord charts (sing along with your friends and enemies)
7. Hallucinogenic photographs and psychedelic graphic design (by Sufjan Stevens, drug-free since 1975)
8. Extensive liner notes (introductory salutations and an essay on the Christmas tree by Sufjan Stevens, and a few theological words on the End Times by Pastor Vito Aiuto)
The vinyl boxset includes:
1. Five EPs on 6 vinyl discs
2. Christmas stickers
3. Temporary tattoos
4. A paper ornament
5. A 40-page Christmas songbook with vocal and piano reductions
6. A Christmas coloring book
7. Hallucinogenic photographs and psychedelic graphic design
8. Extensive liner notes