Sufjan Stevens' newest album Age of Adz is a space-age electronic oratorio that begs to be an opera. I cannot help but imagine elaborate set pieces and costumes to accompany the orchestral and choral sounds found throughout the album.
The opening song is a simple introduction. An empty stage save for the spotlight on one man as he recounts a memory. Meanwhile, backstage, the stage manager readies the set, lights and fog machines while choral members receive make-up and costume touch-ups.
Sufjan eases the listener into this wonderfully different album before hitting us over the head with the third track "Age of Adz." With its dramatic introduction and choral pieces this song sounds like it belongs in an old epic film like Cleopatra or Ben Hur.
The final song, a whopping 25-minutes sagaz, further illustrates this concept. Sufjan forces you to listen closely, to think and imagine, not just simply feel.
In the end it's a breath of fresh air to see that some prominent artists still have creative control over the technology they employ, instead of becoming slave to pre-packaged pop beats.