Oct 202010
Authors: Matt Miller

The folk traveler, once consumed with chronicling history, has created something modern. 

In “The Age of Adz,” Sufjan Stevens’ first real album since 2005’s “Illinois,” he has created something more abstract­­––a schizophrenic work of art.

The elements Stevens mastered on “Illinois” are still there––the twirling flutes, the legions of horns, gentle guitar and his pure voice––but they lie haunting under a blanket of electronic samples and glitchy synthesizers.

In 2005, Stevens claimed to be undertaking a project to create a series of albums on each of the 50 states.  Although this project seems to be lying in the dust now, his ambition is still as strong as ever on “Adz.” 

Stevens is a masterful composer.  And in “Adz,” he makes that clear by creating mountains of sound and worlds to get lost in.  He combines the real and the strange into a beautiful harmony.

It’s an album of introspection into the mind and a compilation of human emotion.

The album chronicles love, mortality, loss and faith in moody waves told by a tortured oracle.

“If I was a different man, if I had blood in my eyes,” sings Stevens in “Too Much” over an electro beat complete with his signature orchestra and angelic coos.

On the album’s title track, Stevens reaches his perfect harmony of the chaotic and the tranquil.  “When I die I’ll rot, but when I live I’ll give it all I’ve got,” he sings.

In the song, his darker side comes through, as it builds from an orchestral march and lapses into a guitar trickle and Stevens whispering, “I could have loved you, I could have changed you.”

His lyrics have never been so personal. He even goes as far as to refer to himself in “Vesuvius,” singing, “Sufjan follow the path, it leads to an article of eminent death.”

“Adz” concludes with a mind-blowing 25-minute epic called “Impossible Soul.”

The song wafts through phases of thought complete with gang vocals, harps, a dance portion and surprisingly auto-tuned vocals.

Although “Impossible Soul” is an experience on its own, it tends to stumble on its own genius at times.

Despite occasional missteps, Stevens has returned with a beautiful mess that cannot be forgotten.

Entertainment Editor Matt Miller can be reached at verve@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 4:04 pm

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