Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens

Enjoy Your Rabbit

Asthmatic Kitty

I’m getting dirty looks from the waiter. I’m sure he realizes that somebody wearing headphones during the lunch rush cannot be a good omen. But I must understand this album: “programmatic songs for the animals of the Chinese Zodiac.” The local paper placemat is the best source of reference I can think of, plus they make a great General Tso’s Chicken, crispy and spicy.

The sounds on Enjoy Your Rabbit are quite engrossing, often disturbing. Unmistakably digital in origin, squeals and machine-fast arpeggios form a structure that appears to come and go from song to song — while some are clearly songs, others fade out between apparently random bursts of musical static and portions of great harmonic invention. “Year of the Rat” is an epic eight minutes, but it’s hypnotic droning rhythm and majestic sweeps of percussion and chord washes are difficult to correlate with people who are quick to anger but can control their tempers. “Year of the Snake” does slither around a bit, in a crafty cobra way. Gifted with musical (if not physical) beauty, the song is doomed to have problems with marriage, especially extramarital affairs.

And so on. Two animals not on the traditional Chinese Zodiac are included (“Year of the Asthmatic Cat” and “Year of Our Lord”), but I hesitate to ask the waiter about them. Sufjan Stevens’ compositions are intricate and hypnotic, striking out in a new direction of electronic music. Ah, chicken’s here. Gotta go.

Asthmatic Kitty Records:

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