Sufjan Stevens

Rating: NNNOn his newest release, Sufjan Stevens takes on Robert Moses, master builder of New York City. He focuses (literally.


Rating: NNN

On his newest release, Sufjan Stevens takes on Robert Moses, master builder of New York City. He focuses (literally – there’s an accompanying original film) on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE).

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The instrumental music works in a cycle, with movements and interludes beginning with the ominous Prelude On The Esplanade. Something bad’s about to happen, in a 2001 monolith sort of way.

Enter the expressway. Cue the fanfare. Stevens and a symphony of strings, woodwinds and brass shift toward a Disneyesque postwar sound. Midway he veers toward Phillip Glass half-empty in Dream Sequence In Subi Circumnavigation.

The tracks continue to shift and turn. In place of vocals, there’s a 40-page booklet that includes an essay by Stevens, photos and liner notes, plus a 3-D View-Master reel. If you love car culture, traffic, suburbs or Stevens’s lyrics, this might be where you turn off.

Top track: Movement I: In The Countenance Of Kings

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