Release Date: Oct 6, 2009
Record label: Asthmatic Kitty
Genre(s): Rock, Pop, Classical
Grab your layperson’s guide to orchestral music terminology. It’s time for a couple of non-folk conceptual albums from arty wunderkind Sufjan Stevens—actually, one is rearranged by Osso. Both of these albums will alienate some fans of Stevens’ virtuosic lyrical-orchestral songsmithing in Illinois. However, if you can muster the attention in contemporary zap-saturated A.D.D.
Run Rabbit Run is an uncategorizable oddity: a collection of inventively arranged chamber pieces for string quartet that just happen to be written by Sufjan Stevens. The source material comes from Stevens' second album, Enjoy Your Rabbit, a set of glitchy, playful electronic miniatures based on the Chinese zodiac cycle that bore zero resemblance to the orchestral folk-pop for which he would become famous. Taking a page from Bang on a Can All-Stars' reworking of Brian Eno's Music for Airports and contemporary classical ensemble Alarm Will Sound's transcriptions of Aphex Twin, the string quartet Osso has hired a phalanx of New York's hippest young composers to recast these works as a surprisingly full-bodied and thoughtful series of picaresques.
The four women of New York and Berlin-based string quartet Osso are no strangers to the indie rock scene. As the meat and potatoes for singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Shara Worden's opera/cabaret/chamber music/rock outfit My Brightest Diamond, they honed both their classical and pop music skills with quiet ferocity, collaborating outside of that project with everyone from Jay-Z and the New Pornographers to Alice and Ravi Coltrane and Kanye West. Somewhere in the eye of that musical tornado they found themselves in the capable hands of indie pop spokesman Sufjan Stevens, providing strings for both studio and stage, so it comes as no surprise that the quartet's first "official" release is a chamber music rendering of Enjoy Your Rabbit, Stevens' 2001 electronic, all-"instrumental" collection of songs based on the symbols of the Chinese zodiac.
2001’s Enjoy Your Rabbit was Sufjan Stevens’ answer to his folksy debut, A Sun Came. Where the latter was a timely entrance, the former was a shocking turn of events. Everything from the glitchy electronics to the Chinese-influenced artwork conveyed a strikingly different sound. Regardless, it ended up finding its way into many people’s hearts as a specially unique and gifted album from a talented musician.
Sufjan Stevens: The BQE – 92/100Osso: Run Rabbit Run – 76/100 Stevens remakes the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway — and gets a makeover himself Though we’re nearing the five-year anniversary of his last proper studio album, Sufjan Stevens has stayed active since his landmark Illinois. In November 2007 he debuted The BQE, a multimedia tribute to the seemingly mundane Brooklyn-Queens Expressway that included an orchestra, three simultaneously projected films and live hula hoopers, and that was performed over three nights at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Ever the perfectionist, Stevens took two years to record and edit this combination CD/DVD set which presents the project in its entirety with an essay by Stevens, a comic book and a vintage View-Master reel added for good measure.