while looking through the various mp3s on my computer a few days ago (and believe me, there are lots of em), I found sufjan steven's first record, a sun came
, living happily on my hard drive. I've forgotten why I copied it in the first place, but there it was, unlistened to. so I listened. and discovered a completely different world of sufjan stevens. most of the reviews that I've read of his music talks about his minimalist tendencies, but I'd very rarely found it within the music of his I'd heard. there was one song in the encore of the show that was very minimalist, but still suffered from sufjan, inc, style arrangements. a sun came
shows sufjan reveling in repetition, growth, and change. each song here includes some kind of hypnotic, repetative drone, an effect that works quite nicely. he played almost every instrument on this album, recorded in 1998, a remarkable feat in and of itself given the variety of the record. but it also means that sufjan very carefully calculated every note that we hear. over the course of almost 80 minutes, sufjan dabbles with more genres and styles than on all the rest of his records - there are irish sounding flutes, sonic youth-esque noise jams, middle-eastern oboes, sparse keyboard numbers, unselfconsciously silly one-offs, and even a free-jazz send up for good measure. the reviews I've read find this scattering effect to be a drawback, but I see it as a strength. it shows that sufjan was, at least at that point, thinking about all the various possibilities of musical expression. I only hope that for whatever state he picks next to attack, he decides to go back to the musical restlessness and exploration that he does here.