Asthmatic Kitty announces the second installment of Sufjan Stevens' 50 State Project, “ILLINOIS”,
a 22-track anthematic tone poem to The Prairie State.
Following the 2003 collection of songs for his home state, ''Michigan,'' Stevens presents an
emphatic answer to the question: Can a songwriter express the spirit of a state he's never called
home? With his most enterprising project to date - the result of extensive research, travel, meditation,
and countless days and nights in the studio - admirers of his previous work and first time listeners
will agree that the answer is yes.
On this second state tour, Sufjan weaves variegated musical styles (jazz, funk, pop) and instrumental
textures (from oboe to church organ) into a tapestry of persons famous, infamous, and
anonymous, and places iconic, obscure, and ghostly. Did you know there is 15-foot bronze statue of
Superman in the Ohio River town of Metropolis? Where many might see only kitsch, Sufjan finds a
touchstone for a tender-yet-rocking meditation on spiritual strength. Or what about the recent UFO
sightings near Highland, or the infamous Chickenmobile in Decatur, where patrons endure ice cream
floats and burgers that beat Big Macs hands down. No detail is wasted. Myths, memories, and incidental
anecdotes are swept up with symphonic flourishes, reenacting the Great Fantastical Voyage
through the Land of Lincoln, the musical road trip takes you through ghost towns, grain mills, hospital
rooms, and the City of Broad Shoulders, with guest appearances by a poet, a president, and a
serial murderer, to name a few.
Implementing 25 instruments, played mostly by Sufjan himself, a two-handed horn section,
string quartet and small choir, Illinois conjures up images of Danny Elfman conducting a Gilbert and
Sullivan company, a minimalist ensemble, and the Marion Catholic Marching Band (state champions
24 years in a row!) on a windswept prairie football field.
Guest musicians include vocalists Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond) and Katrina Kerns,
drummer James McAlister (Ester Drang) and trumpeter Craig Montoro (Volcano, I'm Still Excited!!),
and many others.
DON'T JUST LISTEN TO MUSIC EXPERIENCE IT.