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The Age Of Adz CD

4.4 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (11 Oct. 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Asthmatic Kitty Records
  • ASIN: B004132I4S
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 63,858 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product Description

Product Description

Sufjan Stevens' ninth studio album sees the singer-songwriter ditching the usual banjos and trumpets to create an electronic sound inspired by the works of the schizophrenic artist Royal Robertson.

BBC Review

It’s unusual for an artist to have wider renown for the scope of their ambition, rather than for a particular piece of work. Yet Sufjan Stevens’ place in pop culture consciousness revolves around his professed desire to write a record about every American state. With just Michigan and Illinois undertaken in the last seven years, the project’s completion seems unlikely, unless Stevens lives far beyond his 35 years. Still, those albums made clear his unique songwriting trademarks – an author’s penetrating eye for detail, and a lilting voice backed by pulsating, rhythmic orchestration.

For an artist with such an obvious interest in story and narrative, it’s a surprise to see The Age of Adz, his first album proper since 2005’s Illinois, declare at the end of its opening ballad that "words are futile devices". That line acts as a clarion call for the tone of the record, one apparently loosely based on the imagery of American artist and schizophrenic ‘prophet’ Royal Robinson. If narrative consistency was paramount before, here fragmentation and obliqueness are ever-present. Too Much is suffused with Kid A-like sighing synths and waves of glitches, while the title-track comes across like the lost soundtrack to some strange 1930s sci-fi B movie, all blustering strings and choral harmonics.

There are some beautiful moments in amongst the manic electronic experimentation, but Stevens’ strength as a songwriter lies primarily in his sincerity, his ability to express intimacy without appearing cloying or saccharin. As such it’s the most subdued, personal songs on The Age of Adz that have the deepest impact, such as Now That I’m Older with its sad refrain of "somewhere I lost whatever else I had". Still, the over-riding sense here is of a world in pieces, and an artist in the process of shedding his former self. When Stevens shrieks at the end of I Want To Be Well, "I’m not f***ing around", you wouldn’t want to argue with him, let alone when the album ends with an extraordinary 25-minute piece, Impossible Soul, that amalgamates elements of folk, hip hop and everything in-between.

As with the rest of the album, though, the lengthy closer is suffused with individual moments of brilliance but let down by its self-conscious incoherence. The Age of Adz is a record to admire, rather than to love.

--Sam Lewis

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By Don Panik TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 11 Oct. 2010
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is a record that is going to divide opinion. Like many I became aware of Sufjan Stevens during the Michigan and Illinoise period, and like many I absolutely adored those records. I then explored his back catalogue and generally became a huge fan. Offerings since Illinois / Avalanch have been fairly sparse, and not so much to my liking, so the anticipation for this release has been building for some time. The various outtakes and other tracks released on the All Delighted People EP wetted the appetite - but again left me feeling underwhelmed, wondering if perhaps he had lost his way a bit - or perhaps just his new way was not to my liking.

On hearing this record my first reaction was one of confusion. Here once again was the Sufjan that I loved, fantastic tunes beautifully sung, and intensely moving. But interspersed with great dollops of electronic squelching, and worst of all, what sounded like vocoder (or perhaps autotune). The overall effect to me was that he had taken a beautiful collection of music and scribbled over it with electronic graffiti. The experience of listening was also rather exhausting. I play a lot of music when I am in the car - and I was finding that I was getting to the end of the Sufjan journeys feeling tired and emotional. But this is Sufjan Stevens, so I persevered.

And then something happened, after about half a dozen listens the songs started to make more sense. The electronic noises became less jarring and the sense of a cohesive vision started to overtake the fear that he might have let self indulgence take over.
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Format: Audio CD
This is the 1st album that I have bought by Sufjan having seen it reviewed in a Hi Fi magazine. I have not stopped playing it since it arrived. It is classified as folk music, but I see its appeal as being far wider than that. I have also been listening to snippets of his other albums on Grooveshark and have now ordered the Illinoe album. The BQE album will be next. Buying the Age of Adz has renewed my interest in music, I am an old crusty 63 year old and I have been listening to music since the days of Buddy Holly. Go buy The Age of Adz its great!
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By Syriat TOP 500 REVIEWER on 19 May 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
In recent interviews Sufjan Stevens has stated that he is more interested in noises than lyrics and creating music. If that makes no sense then you are yet to experience The Age Of Adz. This is the first full offering since the quite brilliant Illinois. Part of the alleged 50 states project. And this work feels a bit like the death knell of that project. What was hinted at in the All Delighted People EP is all over this. That being squelches, long tracks and then end of the folk approach.
If you listen to Futile Devices, the opening track, you would think that what I am writing about is a different CD. Its beautiful, breathy and Sufjan at his Illinois best. And then Too Much follows it with electronic squelch, swagger and electronics all over it. Its here you realise the rules of the game have changed. Don't get me wrong. You know its Sufjan, its an evolution of the sound you are used to. But its a real departure that some find too far removed from previous work.
The title track is not my favourite track on the disc. But it pushes this new sound further as do the following tracks, orchestral vocals, electronic sounds swooshing, brass instruments and at the core the voice, the music and the thrill of a man confident enough to push his boundaries. Some of this is quite upbeat. Get real, get right is very much an upbeat number when it gets going. And yes some of these tracks take a while to hit their stride. And may take even longer to grow on you. But give them a chance.

And then this turns into that rare thing. A CD that has a better second half than the first. Vesuvius is a real grower of a track. All for Myself could almost sit well on any Sufjan CD.
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Format: Audio CD
4.5 stars

The new album by the "coolest musician in America" (Sunday Times) starts off by flattering to deceive. "Futile Devices" the opening track to Sufjan Stevens new set of songs could have happily appeared on the outstanding "Seven Swans" and is a gentle bubbling track with a fragile folksy beauty which Stevens can appear to evoke with consummate ease. So then Stevens is clearly going to compensate for his abandonment of his 50 state album cycle promise with a return to earlier glories?

No such chance, indeed while the ""he Age of Adz" has some transcendent moments, this is primarily an album of electronic soundscapes, whose trajectory can be loosely traced back in Stevens musical past to 2002's largely electronic Chinese Zodiac concept album "Enjoy your Rabbit". It is therefore not surprising that the critical reception to this album thus far has been in places bemused and quizzical (and in Uncut's case characterised by outright hostility questioning whether our hero is "a genius or just a show off").

The line between originality and over indulgence is of course a thin one but in Stevens case his ability to make his music soar is the special ingredient. For example the second track "Too much" is Sufjan Stevens meets Yeasayer and a joyous electronic concoction. The funky electronica of "I walked" revolves around an almost trip hop big synth loop and has Stevens trademark angelic vocals and surreal lyrics where he asks "Lover, will you look from me now/I'm already dead/but I've come to explain/why I left such a mess on the floor". Other highlights also include the gently rolling 'Vesuvius' which concentrates on giving self advice and messages to himself and "Bad communication" a short beautiful fragment of a song.
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