If you like this song, shoot me an email (email@example.com) and I'll send you the whole CD. Seriously, do it! Yee Haw!
If you were to hum the first Sufjan Stevens song that came to mind, what would it be? Most people would probably choose a track from Illinois, Stevens’ 2005 release that made him hugely popular in the independent music world with its pleasant, fun and innovative sound. When the film Little Miss Sunshine used “Chicago” as a frontrunner on its soundtrack, Stevens exploded as an artist. Any uncertainty about the alternative/electronic folk artist’s fame was left in the back of the trunk with Grandpa Hoover‘s dead body.
Of course, Stevens has worked on a number of projects. Listeners who couldn’t get enough of the Illinois sound back-tracked to albums like Michigan (2003) and Seven Swans (2004), which feature gorgeous, widely palatable arrangements and that classic folksy Sufjan sound. Later-comers (myself included) and curious but casual followers looked forward toward Age of Adz (2010), and eventually pushed its loud, boiling electronic sounds and winged instrumental flourishes to #7 on Billboard 200.
But Sufjan Stevens experiments a lot more than his canonical albums would lead you to believe. And while the resulting sound doesn’t always climb the charts–or even find itself in Pitchfork or on Last.fm–his albums are almost always fantastically arranged, and true to the essence of their subjects.
In a sense, many of his off-the-beaten-track records that I really like articulate the spirit of a place, social construct or idea. One album, The BQE (2009), echoes the sites and sounds of the famed Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. While the tracks are definitely most familiar–and most frustrating–to regular commuters in NYC, the road’s temperament and vitality are so well-expressed that one who’s never been to the Big Apple can take something from listening.
If they enjoy it. The BQE is certainly not everyone’s bag of chips. Listen here if you’re curious. I know you are. Winky-face.
Today’s DAILY DOOF, however, showcases a song from an even more exotic album: Run Rabbit Run. As a massive instrumental reworking of his 2001 album, Enjoy Your Rabbit, this collection of songs from 2009 might be my favorite musical arrangement ever designed by Sufjan Stevens. Ever. Its sound is radically different, but really freakin’ beautiful. The instrumental work on this album was done by Osso, a contemporary string quartet based out of New York and Berlin. Their mastery–in union with Stevens’ songwriting abilities–makes this album impossible for me to listen to without getting chills.
I’d provide some analysis, but I fear I’ll ruin the song. Please, just give this rare gem a listen.
Also, I have 3 copies of the CD. If you like what you hear and want more, get at me in the comments or email me! firstname.lastname@example.org