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Unreleased Sufjan Stevens Album From 1998 Found in New York City Dumpster

By Philip Trapp | Jul 10, 2016 02:53 PM EDT

In one of the strangest stories reported this year from the quirky world of New York City indie rock, an unreleased album from taciturn troubadour Sufjan Stevens was apparently recovered from a dumpster near the Seven Swans singer-songwriter's Brooklyn studio.

Replete with handmade artwork, a 14-song track list and a copyright date of 1998, the concept album titled Stalker was evidently found by a Reddit user in a trash bin some time ago. The lo-fi finding made waves on the internet last week as savvy Sufjan fans debated the ethics in the trash-combing claimant possibly leaking the unheard album.

Stevens' record label Asthmatic Kitty (started in 1999 by Sufjan and his stepfather Lowell Brams) remained cool about the dross discovery, politely requesting its acquirer not post its contents online. As reported by NME, the label lobbed the following message to the discoverer on Reddit:

"AKR won't send any 'severe takedowns' or legal notices. We don't do that. Instead, I'm asking you, as someone who's also had the special privilege of hearing unreleased music, to politely ask that you keep it to yourself."

Audaciously, the anonymous agitator leaked the album online days later. While Stevens' supporters continue to discuss downloading and listening to the unauthorized music or observing Sufjan's wishes, the peculiarity of a trash-rummager happening upon an album called Stalker remains.

So odd is the all-too-fortuitous coincidence that many listeners suspect the stunt may be a gimmick by Stevens himself. Regardless, the rough-hewn, ominous neo-folk material presented on the album may be legitimate, sounding much like the young Sufjan of his official 2000 debut, A Sun Came.

Lending further credence to its validity, Consequence of Sound called attention to a 2006 Delusions of Adequacy interview wherein the musician states he's previously composed songs about stalkers. Replying to a question on the influence of his faith, Stevens said the following (emphasis added):

"It's not so much that faith influences us as it lives in us. In every circumstance ... I am living and moving and being. This absolves me from ever making the embarrassing effort to gratify God ... by imposing religious content on anything I do. I mean, I've written songs about stalkers. Is that any less religious than a song about an ordained pastor? No way."

Sniff out Stalker at your own risk.

Stalker:
01. "I Know Where Your Kids Go to School"
02. "U Kan Wrun But You Kan't Hyde"
03. "I Got a Good View From Where I'm Standing"
04. "Gonna Rock You Like a Hail Storm"
05. "Save Yourself Before You Die"
06. "Don't Tell Anyone"
07. "No More Mister Nice Guy"
08. "Baby Give Me a Feel"
09. "Uh Oh Yeah Huh Er Um Baby"
10. "I Know Everything About You"
11. "Kommin' Ta Getcha"
12. "Keep All the Mace Inside"
13. "Let's Fly to Another Planet"
14. "Loneliness Is a Warm Bum"

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