Sufjan Stevens

A Sun Came

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The debut disc from this former member of the folk group Marzuki and sometimes Danielson Famile contributor stakes out some wide musical and thematic territory. Although it was recorded on four-track, it transcends the confines of lo-fi and can even seem sonically overambitious at times. Exploring a terrain that can only be called pan-ethnic folk, A Sun Came begins with Celtic overtones before traveling east in a global musical study. Indian, Middle Eastern, Far Eastern, American folk, and instruments ranging from banjo and sitar to oboe and xylophone (most of which are played by Stevens) -- it's all found here in some form or another, which would be a bit disorienting if not for Stevens' often personal lyrical turns and the wide-eyed indie rock vibe that permeates the songs no matter where they may roam. Also, short spoken word pieces are sprinkled across the album, snippets which on one hand sound like field recordings but are in actuality personal anecdotes and reflections from friends, blending further the multicultural music-lesson feel and the introspective, singer/songwriterly tunes -- a nice effect. Highlights include "Demetrius," which takes a Sonic Youth-inspired guitar riff, rides it to the British Isles for some pan pipes, then onward to a Moroccan opium den, and "A Loverless Bed," which is a beautiful, reverb-laden ballad turned noise freak-out.

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