Sufjan Stevens - Enjoy Your Rabbit (2LP)
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His second release, Enjoy Your Rabbit, is a vast departure from the pan-ethnic folk of his debut. Using almost no exterior samples, Stevens crafts an electronic, all-"instrumental" song cycle based on the symbols of the Chinese zodiac. While working within these considerably narrower confines, he still maps out a wide musical territory by using each symbol as a mode, each one exploring different textures and tempos and, in the process, evoking a surprising array of moods. At times eerie and ominous like a backwoods Autechre, other times sounding like more club-oriented fare, Stevens sometimes trades in bloops and bleeps for oblique glitches and crackles, but the underlying guiding principle is wide-eyed exploration that fills nearly every track with a sense of playfulness. Enjoy Your Rabbit never gets too serious, although at times it's very intense. Many tracks even have some sort of musical pun working just under the surface; for instance, "Year of the Horse" is by far the longest, clocking in at over 13 minutes, and "Year of the Ox" has a regular, heavy thudding beat.