ALBUM REVIEW: Sufjan Stevens, Timo Andres, Conor Hanick – Reflections

4.5 rating
Sufjan Stevens

Musical wunderkind Sufjan Stevens has amazed fans and critics with many varied genre offerings for over two decades. He inhabits a musical space that allows him to investigate various formats, themes and musical adventures. Among his many creations are mainstream Indie albums, techno experimentations, award-winning soundtracks and instrumental theme pieces.

On May 19th, Stevens and pianists Conor Hanick and Timo Andres are releasing Reflections. Reflections is the instrumental recording of the written score to the ballet of the same name debuted by the Houston Ballet in 2019.

The recorded score for Reflections was written by Stevens, performed by Hanick and Andres and produced by Ryan Streber. Over the seven tracks, it is easy to pick out the influences of Debussy, Stravinsky, Philip Glass and even Bruce Hornsby. The tracks facilitate the ability to visualize bodies in motion. Stevens has characterized the release explaining, “I am constantly thinking about bodies in motion through space when I am writing for the ballet. That is what has informed this music first and foremost.” The content of Reflections is best described as bold, bright, and skittishly virtuosic.

Reflections opens with ‘Ekstasis,’ the Greek word for experiencing a mystical, inner vision. The track begins with an energetic feeling of immediacy. It is an excellent introduction to the recording displaying its intent. Where ‘Ekstasis’ is more in line with classic expectations of ballet accompaniments, the next track ‘, Revanche’ gives a more modern feel, channelling Philip Glass as it reveals discordant elements.

‘Euphoros’, the Greek word for health and happiness, reflects its definition sonically. It is loud and boisterous with an audacity that is palpable. This track is followed by ‘Mnemosyne’, which is soft and gentle, like a rain shower. The track is named after the goddess of memory, aptly titled, for this track lingers in the mind long after it is over. Channelling his inner Stravinsky Stevens on ‘Rodinia’ presents a mood piece that is gripping and drowning in emotion. The shortest track on the release is ‘Reflexion’, defined as the ability to reflect beams or rays.

This gentle rolling offering harkens to light playing on leaves and broadcasts an autumnal vibe. The final track has the longest play time along with the longest and most humorous title; ‘I Shall Come to You Like a Stormtrooper in Drag Saving Imperial Realness.’ As indicated by the title, the selection is playful and energetic. There is an energy that is choppy and even discordant as cascading rivulets of piano goodness spring forth from the offering bringing the album to a rumbling end.

Reflections is an engaging addition to Sufjan Steven’s diverse discography. The record is the perfect Sunday Brunch accompaniment. It displays Stevens’s ability to produce worthy content no matter the genre. It is achingly beautiful and expertly executed by the pianists Hanick and Andres. This release will be a must-have for Uber Stevens fans to complete their record collection or for those looking to expand their musical horizons.

For Stevens, the eternal question has become, is there any genre he does not excel within? With Reflections as proof, the answer is quickly becoming no.


Xsnoize Author
Lori Gava 346 Articles
Lori has been with XS Noize from the beginning and contributes album reviews regularly.Fav bands/artists: Radiohead, U2, The Cure, Arcade Fire, The Twilight Sad, Beck, Foals, Sufjan StevensFav Albums: In Rainbows, Achtung Baby, Disintegration, Funeral, Sea Change, Holy Fire, Nobody Wants to be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave.

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