MUSIC REVIEWS: Sufjan Stevens

Illinois Asthmatic Kitty
Music •••• Sound ••••
I'll take half this review to say that Track 2 is called "The Black Hawk War, or, How to Demolish an Entire Civilization and Still Feel Good About Yourself in the Morning, or, We Apologize for the Inconvenience but You're Going to Have to Leave Now, or, 'I have fought the Big Knives and will continue to fight them until they are off our lands!' " - all describing wordless, otherworldly harmonies backed by (slow) marching band. And if that doesn't intrigue you, I'll take the rest of this review to say that Sufjan Stevens, having done his native Michigan, now tackles Part 2 of his proposed Fifty States Project by blending pop, country, and Reich/Glass influences (mostly played by himself but also joined by string quartet and the Illinoisemaker Choir) in a hallucinatory travelogue that's intimate and grand - and genuinely cornfed and citybred. (Yours truly, an Illinois native of both backgrounds, should know.) Brian Wilson? This is the stuff that smiles are made of.