Thursday, September 10, 2009

New Sufjan Stevens video

Sufjan Stevens, the mercurial musician who's attempting to write an album for each of the 50 US states, is an odd fish.

His records veer from captivating brilliance (Chicago is so ludicrously beautiful it should be listed as one of the new wonders of the world) to treacherous self-indulgence (the outtakes album with three pointless versions of Chicago completely dilutes the song's delicate magic).

Anyway, he's back with another crazy idea: An orchestral symphony about a motorway - The Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, to be precise. A distressingly ugly, 11-mile elevated expressway that cuts through New York like a rusting hacksaw.

Stevens has made a pointless "arty" film of the road (and some shots of people hula hooping for no good reason). This gets played in the background while the musician plays his sumptuous, swelling suite on stage.

The first performance came in November 2007, and won the singer-songwriter the prestigious Brendan Gill Prize for a work of art that successfully captures the sprit of New York City.

A DVD / CD of the show is coming out next month, and a trailer video featuring one of the symphony's interludes has just been posted on Vimeo. The music's interlocking polyrhythms create a hypnotic lullaby that slowly builds into a cacophony of brass. A bit like a rush hour traffic jam.

With hula hoops.

Interlude I — Dream Sequence in Subi Circumnavigation

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