“There’s nothing to mourn about death any more than there is to mourn about the growing of a flower. What is terrible is not death but the lives people live or don’t live up until their death. They don’t honor their own lives, they piss on their lives. They shit them away. Dumb fuckers. They concentrate too much on fucking, movies, money, family, fucking. Their minds are full of cotton. They swallow God without thinking, they swallow country without thinking. Soon they forget how to think, they let others think for them. Their brains are stuffed with cotton. They look ugly, they talk ugly, they walk ugly. Play them the great music of the centuries and they can’t hear it. Most people’s deaths are a sham. There’s nothing left to die.”—Charles Bukowski, The Captain Is Out to Lunch and the Sailors Have Taken Over the Ship, 1998
“Considering how common illness is, how tremendous the spiritual change that it brings, how astonishing, when the lights of health go down, the undiscovered countries that are then disclosed, what wastes and deserts of the soul a slight attack of influenza brings to light…it becomes strange indeed that illness has not taken its place with love, battle, and jealousy among the prime themes of literature. Novels, one would have thought, would have been devoted to influenza; epic poems to typhoid; odes to pneumonia, lyrics to toothache. But no; … literature does its best to maintain that its concern is with the mind; that the body is a sheet of plain glass through which the soul looks straight and clear.”—Virginia Woolf - On Being Ill
"At first blush, this album recalls Wolf Parade with the band’s frayed melodic sensibilities and urgent, driven vocals in particular. Of course, Wolf Parade borrowed a few ideas from Modest Mouse, whose beginnings were indebted to the Pixies. This is the sort of musical lineage that creates the foundation for this group’s debut. But dig a little deeper and strains of Queen’s epic rock peer through, while exhilarating guitar work that nods towards Thin Lizzy appears in more than a few songs."
For those who like Modest Mouse, The Shins, Cake, and White Stripes.
Lowell Brams was raised in West Alexandria and Dayton, Ohio. He met Sufjan Stevens in Detroit, Michigan, in 1976, but Sufjan was eleven months old and doesn’t remember it. After Lowell and Sufjan’s mother married, they re-met in 1980 in Eugene, Oregon, have been friends since then, and started Asthmatic Kitty together in 1998. They are both insomniacs, the theme Sufjan suggested for this album. Bryce Dessner is originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, and a founding member of The National.
Music for Insomnia was written and performed by Lowell Brams and Sufjan Stevens on Harmonium, Little Casio, Little Korg, Big Prophet, Prepared Piano, Unprepared Piano, Acoustic and Electric Guitars, Autoharp, Drums, Bass, Reedless Woodwinds, Bells, Shakers, Tambourine, Hair, Duct Tape and Keys.Track 8 written and performed by Lowell Brams, Harmonium and Korg, Bryce Dessner, Electric and Acoustic guitar, and Sufjan Stevens, Piano, Casio and Percussion. Many thanks to Bryce and Sufjan, and, Ed N., The Lone Ranger, and the dudes of Con Los Dudes, who may be heard riding into the sunset on “Alpha to Theta.”