Angelo De Austine and Sufjan Stevens’ singles “Back to Oz” and “Fictional California” work together to redefine musical spaces that question our internal fantasies. Through melodic adaptations of film and the Buddhist practices of shoshin, these two singles demand reflection from an audience consumed by dreams, memories, and nightmares.
With fuzzy, copper-toned vocals, resonating electric guitar, and soulful harmonies, “Back to Oz” employs disillusionment to question what it means to lose yourself. Moreover, “Fictional California[‘s]” angelic vocals, enchanted chimes, and folklore-plucked guitar reminisces upon “the spectacle of my youth” and the effects of maturity. These two singles precede Angelo De Augustine and Sufjan Stevens’ highly anticipated 14-track LP “A Beginners Mind” out September 24, 2021.
“Back to Oz”, based on the 1985 film “Return to Oz”, aims to understand what it is like to lose ourselves in interior fantasy. Angelo De Augstine describes this melodic journey as “an erosion of a central character’s internal reality,” where “Dorothy returns to the world of Oz to find its landscape in ruins and its citizens frozen in stone.” When only Dorothy can save the world of Oz, she is asked to remember her internal truth. Paired alongside Augstine and Stevens’ introspective musings, mystical melodies bring this fantasy forward for exploration.
“Only she can find the ruby slippers and return peace to Oz. Only we can save ourselves, but we first have to remember who we truly are.”
Angelo De Augustine
“Fictional California” continues to reflect upon internal terrain and fantasies. Inspired by the early-2000’s film “Bring It On”, Augustine’s angelic vocals recounts his childhood through the lyrics ““Now that I have survived / The spectacle of my youth / I’m gonna bring it on again / Bring it on with my truth”. The purposeful layering of vocals, intentional switches from the musicians perspectives, and crescendo of enchanting percussion intertwine to create a melodic memory of adolescence.
Throughout both singles, it is evident the impact film has on both Augustine and Stevens. Yet, beneath the singles exteriors, both musicians attribute the Buddhist practice of shoshin as a crucial part of their process. Shoshin, literally meaning “a beginner’s mind”, allowed the artists to digest film and melody through an uninhibited state of creativity. Within the confines of a mutual friend’s upstate NY cabin, film and shoshin became the cornerstone of their creative retreat.
Both “Back to Oz” and “Fictional California” evoke a dream-like return to our internal realities through cross-inspirations of film and spirituality. Alongside electric, energizing disillusionment and folksy, treehouse acoustics, these two newest releases from Angelo De Augustine and Sufjan Stevens inspire introspective scrutiny of fantasy, memory, and personal landscapes.
To hear more from Augustine and Stevens’, listen to previously released singles “Reach Out” and “Olympus”. Additionally, expect more creative, innovative melodies from the two artists in their 14-song LP “A Beginners Mind” released this upcoming September.