The Atlantic

A Musical Voyage Through the Solar System, Darkly

Sufjan Stevens, Nico Muhly, Bryce Dessner, and James McAlister’s bombastic Planetarium uses outer space to consider human folly.
Source: 4AD

Space is a real place, but we Earthlings mostly experience it as a backdrop, a trivia trove, a fantasy landscape, and a metaphor. In the cultural imagination, space can seem like just a version of not-space—how many interstellar voyage movies are really about family issues on the third rock from the Sun?

The new album Planetarium embraces the way that space serves as humankind’s depository for stray ideas and symbols. Singer Sufjan Stevens, contemporary-classical composer Nico Muhly, guitarist Bryce Dessner, and percussionist James McAlister first created these songs to perform live in 2012, executing on a commission Muhly had received

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