Moses Sumney’s Aromanticism

A wonderfully talented friend of mine told me about Moses Sumney over tea a few days ago. I’m not sure what rock I’ve been under, but I’ve clearly been hibernating because I had no clue this creative human existed. So, I decided to go down a Moses Sumney hole starting with his debut album Aromanticism.

To begin, I learned a new word—aromantic. An aromantic is someone who experiences little to no romantic attraction. In a New York Times article, Moses Sumney explains that he has never experienced romantic love and wanted to challenge a culture that values romantic love so highly:

I was just bored with the love song, the idea of the love song as the archetype, and also the culture that suggests romantic love is the end-all and be-all of human existence. I wanted to question and challenge that on a personal level and on the social level — the personal is the social. I think I just felt alienated by the idea of pursuing romantic love. And I never fully saw myself in love songs, although I enjoy them. But I was wondering, what else is there?

I am certainly intrigued by the choice to tackle this idea and while I don’t have a solid opinion about this album—I can’t after only a few listens—I am content to sit in this Moses Sumney hole for a while and discover more.

Here’s a video of him performing my current favorite from Aromanticism, “Plastic”:

I know what it is to be broken and be bold
Tell you that my silver is gold
Though we’re much too old for make believe
And I know what it’s like to behold and not be held
Funny how a stomach unfed
Seems satisfied ’cause it’s swell and swollen
And you caught me
Shootin’ cross the sky like a star
But nobody told me
To never let it get too far
You see my silhouette, so you’re standing scared of me
Can I tell you a secret?

Prince: Piano & a Microphone

I don’t usually like listening to posthumously released albums. If the artist didn’t want me to hear it, I don’t think I should hear it. It may be weird, but listening to “gems” from the vault have always felt like crossing some kind of line. What I do love, however, is hearing songs stripped down to the basics.

Prince Piano & a Microphone 1983 sounds like Prince playing around. That’s what I love about it. It’s not perfect. It’s not clean. It’s an artist at work, an artist at play.

Is it something I’ll listen to every day? Probably not. But I do wonder what benefits a songwriter could find in just listening to what working sounds like and reminding themselves what it feels like to just play.

Here are a few of the songs that were previously released and are stripped down to just piano and vocals on this album:

“17 days”

I wanna call you every day
Beg you to be near me
I know your head is underwater
I doubt that you could hear me

“Strange Relationship”

I bet you wish this was a movie
Then you could rewrite my every line

“International Lover”

Darlin’
Appears to me
You could use a date tonight
A lover that’ll do you right
Am I qualified?

And this is just a treat:

“Mary Don’t You Weep”

All These Kinds of Things…

We often assign music one task—to move us. We want it to make us sad, make us cry, make us happy, make us dance. In my opinion, the best songs ever written are the ones that give me what my heart wants, but also meet me where my head is.

And where is my head right now?

There’s always someone tryin’ to take someone’s power away.
The history of the world is violent. Will it ever change?
Now we’re livin’ in a time where you just can’t hide
There’s a camera in every hand
It’s not elusive. Even when they treat you like you’re useless,
We know what the truth is.

India.Arie, “Breathe”

My head is burdened by thoughts I’m very tired of thinking. It’s almost impossible to understand how a people could deem themselves so superior that they would enslave another. Or how after decades of fights for freedom, we somehow still need to explain that we aren’t yet free and stand aside while the powerful, the wealthy, the white trivialize this perpetual war.

The Constitution
A noble piece of paper
With free society
Struggled but it died in vain
And now Democracy is ragtime on the corner
Hoping for some rain
Looks like it’s hoping
Hoping for some rain…

Gil Scott-Heron, “Winter in America”

In an effort to be kind, I’ll admit it is different now. We don’t walk around with our chains visible. But they’re there. A lot of us are bound by poverty and an inability to sustain ourselves financially, a state rooted in a system of slavery and racism conceived long before we were. Most of us are wondering why, so many years later, we even have to have a conversation about representation. Among these and many others, all of us are wondering why the mandate for an encounter with a black person is to shoot first and ask questions later.

Black human packages tied in subsistence
Having to justify your very existence
Try if you must, but you can’t have my soul
Black rage is made by ungodly control…

Lauryn Hill, “Black Rage”

American Pill

American pill will wreck and kill.

~ Fantastic Negrito, “Plastic Hamburgers”

I live in a world where everything is potentially harmful and the rules we are taught to follow may very well destroy us; where evolution and technological advancement has left us questioning little, trapped in our own ideas and safe from others; where the violence of yesteryear, once hidden under hope for change, has reared its ugly head holding tiki torches and marching through university streets; where one wrong move leads to death by a badged gunman; where mass gatherings incite anxiety of mass violence. I live in a world I don’t like. I live in a world I don’t understand.

Let’s break out these chains, let’s burn it down.

~ Fantastic Negrito, “Plastic Hamburgers”