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