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Avalanche

8 customer reviews

Price: £7.15 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £20. Details
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Amazon's Sufjan Stevens Store

Music

Image of album by Sufjan Stevens

Photos

Image of Sufjan Stevens

Biography

The Age of Adz (pronounced odds) is Sufjan Stevens’ first full-length collection of original songs since 2005’s civic pop opus Illinois. This new album is probably his most unusual, first, for its lack of conceptual underpinnings, and second, for its preoccupation with Sufjan himself. The album relinquishes the songwriter’s former story-telling techniques for more primal ... Read more in Amazon's Sufjan Stevens Store

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Avalanche + Michigan + Illinoise
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Product details

  • Audio CD (10 July 2006)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Rough Trade Records
  • ASIN: B000FJGR5S
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 68,949 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. The Avalanche
2. Super Computer
3. Adlai
4. Vivian
5. Chicago Acoustic
6. Henney Buggy
7. Saul Bellow
8. Carlyle
9. Springfield
10. Mistress
11. Kaskaskia River
12. Chicago AC
13. Inaugural Music
14. Your Land
15. Tornado
16. Pick Up
17. Perpetual Self
18. Pluto
19. Chicago OCD
20. Pittsfield
See all 21 tracks on this disc

Product Description

Product Description

The little secret behind the Illinois record is that it was originally conceived as a double album, culminating in a musical collage of nearly 50 songs. But as the project began to develop into an unwieldy epic, common sense weighed in – as did the opinions of others – and the project was cut in half. But as 2005 came to a close, Sufjan returned to the old, forsaken songs on his 8-track like a grandfather remembering his youth. Sufjan gleaned 21 useable tracks from the abandoned material, including three alternate versions of Chicago. Some songs were in finished form, others were merely outlines, gesture drawings, or musical scribbles mumbled on a hand-held tape recorder. Most of the material required substantial editing, new arrangements or vocals. Much of the work was done at the end of 2005 or in January the following year. Sufjan invited many of the original Illinoisemakers to fill in the edges: drums, trumpet, a choir of singers. The centrepiece, of course, was the title track – The Avalanche – a song intended for the leading role on the Illinois album but eventually cut and placed as a bonus track on the vinyl release. Often some of the most interesting material can be found in an artist’s sketchbook – the incidental pencil marks that turn into great panoramic landscapes or simple figure drawings that allude to greater, more mysterious things. The songs on The Avalanche pry open the sketch pad of a musician who considers himself more a technician than an artist, who often regards the process of songwriting even more gratifying than the song itself.

Amazon.co.uk

Sufjan Stevens' plan to release an album titled after each of the 50 American States goes a little off course on The Avalanche, although it should be noted that this is a collection of outtakes from Stevens' 2005 album, Illinois. Clocking in at an impressive 21 tracks, it's clear this Michigan-born Christian folk-rocker doesn't lack the inspiration to tackle such an ambitious task. Part psychedelic bluegrass, part extra-terrestrial electronic ambience, and part tribal percussion-fest, The Avalanche is every bit as piecemeal and confusing as you'd expect from an outtakes disc. A couple of enjoyable electronic numbers (see: 'Dear Mir Supercomputer') prove Stevens is working on another dimension from more traditional folkies like Devendra Banhart or Joanna Newsom, but what's really startling here is how so many excellent, lyrical songs have been carried over for this disc: the elegant, minor-key 'Springfield, Or Bobby Got A Gadfly Caught In Hair', or the serene, acid-folk vision laid out on the title track. Meanwhile, fans of Illinois should be delighted by three mischievous alternate versions of 'Chicago' - a acoustic version, a syrupy, Coldplay-style version titled 'Adult Contemporary Easy Listening Version', and the electronic-tinged 'Multiple Personality Disorder Version'. --Louis Pattison

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Alan on 12 July 2006
Format: Audio CD
Another year, another Sufjan Stevens album. Which is a "good thing", what with Sufjan being one of the most original, most creative and most talented songwriters around today (not to mention the most eccentric).

So, outtakes from another album. Sounds like it would just be an album full of sub-standard rejects from the, frankly, brilliant Illinois album. However, The Avalance could easily stand as an album in its own right, and if it wasn't for the fact that on the cover it says "Outtakes and extras from the Illinois album!" in fairly large text, it probably would.

If you like Illinois then, obviously, you're going to like this. That's it. End of story. I just wanted to say that some of the material on this disc is as good, if not better, than the material on Illinois. And some of it isn't. But hey, that's life.

Cheers, Sufjan.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By M. A. Fraser on 2 Sept. 2006
Format: Audio CD
The Avalanche may not display the theatricality of Illinoise, but I feel it has its own soundscape, (let's call it Crosby Stills Nash and Young with trumpets etc) and that is the reason for many of these outtakes/extras rather than any quality issue that might be inferred by the subtitle of this CD.

For me, the heart of the CD is sequence of tracks 7-10, songs that CSN&Y (and their various combinations) would have killed for. For example Springfield - despite its infamous guitar solo.

Later in this CD comes the upbeat and tuneful No Man's Land, featured in the movie Little Miss Sunshine, and the very touching (and personal?) Pittsfield.

If you liked Illinoise, don't hesitate to acquire another 76 minutes of this most vital of modern American songwriters.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Ben Whitehouse VINE VOICE on 20 July 2006
Format: Audio CD
75 minutes' worth of stuff that didn't get on the album proper. From a man whose already released seven albums and plans to do one about each of the 50 American states. Prolific doesn't even begin to cover it.

The Avalanche is all the music ideas/quirks/tropes he didn't have time to develop. It's a bit like discovering a long lost twin for the Illinois album. Ideas from Illinois get developed further, some of the songs start to make sense. And there's some wonderful acoustic stuff too. Check it out.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By J. W. Bassett on 4 July 2006
Format: Audio CD
It seems that while Sufjan Stevens was locked in his bedroom from an annoyingly young age honing his craft, he was never party to a vital lesson: no one likes a show off. So, not content with the arduous schedule of his ambitious state-by-state travelogue - Stevens first decided to take a detour with 2003's gorgeous Seven Swans album - he's also decided to give us a compilation of the off-cuts from last year's Illinois album.

A little known and not all that interesting titbit is that Illinois was originally conceived as a 50-track double-CD. Presumably to prevent it becoming utterly unwieldy, it was cut in half and originally ran as a relatively spare 23-tracks. The Avalanche, therefore, represents the musical debris liberally scattered from an abundant epic.

With most of the unused recordings in skeletal form, Stevens invited many of the original musicians back into his studio to fill in the gaps, while he plays banjo, guitar, drums and an English horn on many of the songs. There is nothing about the resulting album that sounds even relatively unwanted.

The titular song was originally housed as a bonus track on the vinyl version of Illinois and it could easily have formed the centrepiece of the original album. Positioned as the opening track, it sets the bar absurdly high for an album of outtakes and extras. Chicago, meanwhile, is dense and challenging enough to warrant the three supplementary versions on offer here.

Additionally, each track from Illinois seemingly has a counterpart on The Avalanche; Carl Sandburg arm-wrestles Saul Bellow, the aliens from Concerning The UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois, salute a statue of Clyde Tombaugh and the loneliness of Casimir Pulaski Day deepens further into the despairing Pittsfield.

A compilation of outtakes and extras it may be but, as an exercise in form, The Avalanche reveals the working habits of one of the most productive songwriters around.
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