Sufjan Stevens and Angelo De Augustine's A Beginner's Mind is as brilliant in execution as it is in design. Stevens and the similarly voiced De Augustine decamped to Upstate New York and proceeded to write songs inspired by movies they watched the evening before. Films ranged from early Hollywood classics (All About Eve), to campy B-grade horror movies (Night of the Living Dead), to a cheeseball surfer/heist flick (Point Break).
I am eating a chocolate in bed and it reminded me of this album so
Right album, right time, right? I mean. Stevens's star, while not perhaps circling in an entirely declinated orbit, is certainly on the wane after several adventurous projects went awry; de Augustine's ascends, following the release of the accessible and successful Tomb. A lot is made of the relationship between the two, Augustine the purported fosterling and ward to Steven' largesse, and I offer very lucrative odds on how many reviews will invoke a "master/apprentice" dynamic or use the word "protégé" (odds which my brother lost; the house always wins!) but I don't think that's wholly fair to either artist.
Sufjan Stevens and Angelo De Augustine each make susurrant music that's rich with heart and striking imagery. De Augustine has released three albums, including his standout 2019 record Tomb, and Stevens has a fulsome back-catalogue that includes everything from Convocations, a 49-track ambient/electronic album released earlier this year, to 2004's lo-fi, banjo-filled folk record Seven Swans. While a pair of singles released in 2020 previewed the duo's sparkling connection, their first collaborative LP, A Beginner's Mind, confirms that they are a musical match made in heaven.
A Beginner's Mind is a collection of folk songs loosely inspired by films the duo have watched together which range from All About Eve to Mad Max.
There's a minor subgenre of pop concept albums inspired by movies--not soundtrack albums, but records that explicitly take vivid cinematic imagery as lyrical inspiration. On one side is, say, JAY-Z's American Gangster, sparked by Jay's obsession with a single movie. On the other end is something more self-consciously abstract, like the U2 and Brian Eno collaboration Original Soundtracks 1, a compilation of themes to imaginary movies created by jamming in the studio over film clips.