Luka Kuplowsky Announces New Double Album 'How Can I Possibly Sleep When There Is Music,' Shares Title Track

It's the poetry-inspired follow-up to 2020's 'Stardust'

BY Megan LaPierrePublished Apr 3, 2024

Toronto's Luka Kuplowsky has announced a new double album with the Ryōkan Band and shared its title track.

Following 2020's Stardust (and 2022's Ian Daniel Kehoe-collaboration Ingredient), How Can I Possibly Sleep When There Is Music arrives May 31 through Next Door Records

The record was conceived of adaptations of — and responses to — a "millennia of poetry," as per Kuplowsky, bringing together the works of Ryōkan Taigu, Bohdan Ihor Antonych, Rainer Maria Rilke, Yosana Akiko, Du Fu, Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī, W.W.E Ross, Li Bai, and La Fontaine in a kaleidoscopic mélange of folk, jazz and blues. It was all inspired by a chance encounter with Beverly Glenn-Copeland, which renewed Kuplowsky's dedication to his local library, seeking books that reminded him of the great's "spirituality and playfulness."

"Poetry and music became an inseparable practice," Kuplowsky explained. "I would read for hours, and when a song called out, I would play. Some poems felt so comfortable as songs; not a word was out of place when I began to sing. Others began to naturally extend themselves to other songs I had been writing, blurring and unravelling into their own worlds. My aim was not to faithfully reflect the original intention of the poems, but to respond to them as they struck me. In this way, my poetic adaptations are better understood as responses or interpretations, following language and bending or modifying it to meet me in the moment of its resonance."

The title track is a reflection on Soto Zen Buddhist monk Ryōkan Taigu, and features vocalist Felicity Williams and flautist Anh Phung. "Felicity overtaking the vocal melody at the end and reacting to Anh's flute sets up a framework for the album; a trading forth and conversation between voices and sounds," Kuplowsky added of the song in a release. "How special to be in a world so animated by a curiosity and love of sound. And to dance and move to it! How can one even sleep!"

Listen to the understatedly joyful, whimsy-filled "How Can I Possibly Sleep When There Is Music" below, where you'll also find the full album tracklist details.

How Can I Possibly Sleep When There Is Music:

1. Elixir of Immortality
2. To Pi Ssu Yao (Du Fu)
3. How Can I Possibly Sleep When There Is Music (a response to Ryōkan Taigu)
4. Generous Fool
5. Formal Meditation (Ryōkan Taigu)
6. The Rain Has Not Yet Cleared
7. Self-Portrait (Bohdan Ihor Antonych)
8. Don't Be Jealous! (a response to Jalāl al-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī)
9. Thoughts in Exile
10. If Your Heart Remains Unchanged (Ryōkan Taigu)
11. I Knew It Would Be You! (Ryōkan Taigu)
12. I Pass the Evening Slowly
13. 4 Poems (Yosano Akiko)
14. Dreaming of Li Bai (Du Fu)
15. Thoughts While Travelling
16. Ars Poetica 2 (Bohdan Ihor Antonych)
17. The Frog That Wants to Make Itself as Big as an Ox (Jean De La Fontaine)
18. Mid Summer (Ryōka)
19. If Birds Are Silent (W.W.E Ross)
20. What Luck! (Ryōkan Taigu)
21. You Made Me Sing! (a response to Jalāl al-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī)
22. Elixir of Immortality, Pt. 2
23. Wasting (Li Bai)
24. Fugitive Song (a response to Rainer Maria Rilke)

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