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coverpic flag US - New York - Full Moon 172 - 09/23/10

Sufjan Stevens
All Delighted People EP
Asthmatic Kitty Records

Last year Sufjan Stevens put out the experimental, rather eccentric, very symphonic, and indeed cinematic The BQE. I then asked for a regular, normal album. We've had The Avalanche: Outtakes and Extras from the Illinois Album and Songs for Christmas, but it's been 5 years since the great Illinois year. All of a sudden the man strikes back with this EP, and a forthcoming album entitled The Age of Adzz (due October 12th, on vinyl November 9th).

All Delighted People EP is 8 songs, lasting for more than an hour. Sufjan's musical journeys are quite something. This time the epic title track - performed as an original version (11:38) and a classic rock version (08:07) - plus the closing guitar/choir hymn/jam "Djohariah" (17:02), take up close to two thirds of the time. The rest of the songs follow more 'regular' patterns, clocks in at more 'normal' times. The EP's title song is a piece of grandeur. It's a majestic and delightful composition, with wall-to-wall choir and trumpets. In the hands of others this could've been sheer, excessively elevated nonsense. Sufjan Stevens for sure dares, and it's almost like he is making the 'teenage symphony to God' Mr Wilson was talking about.

The following "Enchanting Ghost" and "Heirloom" are more down to earth, less-orchestrated, more crisp and fragile pop songs. Ballads with soul (and balls). The music of Sufjan is ghostly and angel-like, angelic. Like they're hovering 10-20 metres above ground, flying through some fairytale landscapes. "From The Mouth Of Gabriel" brings another angel (if it's not Peter G?), before the stunning piano-ballad "The Owl And The Tanager" appears (still winged creatures...). A totally breathtaking beauty of a song. I prefer the epic original version of "All Delighted People" over the classic rock version, but it's quite cool with a bit of rock guitar towards the end, though. "Arnika" is another piece of typical Sufjan Stevens folk-pop on the more quiet side of the scale, before the massive "Djohariah" ends a looong EP. This long-stretched closer kicks in with some raw sounding guitar parts, paired with the trademark Sufjan choir and orchestra web, cascading, coming in waves, before it comes to an end.

All Delighted People EP is a dramatic listening, said to be "a homage to the Apocalypse, existential ennui, and Paul Simon's "Sound of Silence". With "Djohariah" being a "guitar jam-for-single-mothers". Holding such delightful and delicious songs and music. Value for money, that's for sure! Take a bow. Let's just await the next platter bursting with excitement.

Copyright © 2010 Håvard Oppøyen e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Sufjan Stevens articles/reviews: Blue Bucket of Gold (remix), Carrie & Lowell, Come on feel the Illinoise, Greetings From Michigan - The Great Lake State, No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross, Seven Swans, Silver & Gold, The Age of Adz, The Avalanche: Outtakes & Extras from Illinois Album, The BQE.

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