Featured in Michael Fremer's Heavy Rotation in the November 2005 Issue of Stereophile!
Like the self-proclaimed "Spiderman" who climbed Chicago's Sears Tower with
no harness, Sufjan Stevens scales dusty prairies, steel factories, and two
hundred years of history in the second installment of his 50 State Project,
"Illinois", a 22-track anthematic tone poem to The Prairie State. An
engrossing musical road trip, "Illinois" takes you through ghost towns, grain
mills, hospital rooms, and the City of Broad Shoulders, with guest appearances
by a poet, a president, a serial murderer, UFOs, Superman, the goat that cursed
the Cubs, and Decatur's famous Chickenmobile. Sufjan weaves variegated musical
styles (jazz, funk, pop, folk, and Rodgers and Hammerstein-like flourishes) and
the textures of 25 instruments into a tapestry of persons and places famous,
infamous, iconic and anonymous. Invoking the muse of poet Carl Sandburg,
"Illinois" ushers in trumpets on parade, string quartets, female choruses and
ambient piano scales arranged around Stevens' emerging falsetto.
ē Double LP
1. Concerning the UFO sighting near Highland, Illinois
2. 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!"
3. Come On! Feel the Illinoise! / Part I: The World's Columbian Exposition /
Part II: Carl Sandburg Visits Me In A Dream
4. John Wayne Gacy, Jr.
6. A short reprise for Mary Todd, who went insane, but for very good reasons
7. Decatur, or, Round of Applause for Your Step Mother!
8. One last "Whoo-hoo!" for the Pullman
9. Go! Chicago! Go! Yeah!
10. Casimir Pulaski Day
11. To The Workers of The Rock River Valley Region, I have an idea concerning
your predicament, and it involves tube socks, a paper airplane, and twenty-two
1. The Man of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts
2. Prairie Fire That Wanders About
3. A conjunction of drones simulating the way in which Sufjan Stevens has an
existential crisis in the Great Godfrey Maze
4. The Predatory Wasp of The Palisades Is Out To Get Us
5. They Are Night Zombies!! They Are Neighbors!! They Have Come Back From the
6. Let's hear that string part again, because I donít think they heard it all
the way out in Bloomington-Normal
7. In This Temple As in The Hearts of Man For Whom He Saved The Earth
8. The Seer's Tower
9. The Tallest Man, the Broadest Shoulders / Part I: The Great Frontier / Part
II: Come to Me Only With Playthings Now
10. Riffs and Variations on a single note for Jelly Roll, Earl Hines, Louis
Armstrong, Baby Dodds, and the King of Swing, to name a few
11. Out of Egypt, into the Great Laugh of Mankind, and I shake the dirt from my
sandals as I run
12. The Avalanche