sufjan-stevens-run-rabbit-run-album-artFor Sufjan Stevens’ fanatics in search of original new material, Run Rabbit Run does not exactly fulfil expectations, having been reworked from his 2001 electronic concept album on the Chinese Zodiac, Enjoy Your Rabbit, for the string quartet Osso. A frequent collaborator to Anthony and The Johnsons, the quartet enlisted help from many talented arrangers and composers such as Nico Muhly and Michael Atkinson, to ensure that the glitchy renderings of Steven’s electronic experiment were not lost on string instruments. There are of course certain tracks that emerge from such a transition with more conviction than others but these do not detract from the epic nature and talent of a project such as this.Album opener ‘Year Of The Ox’ finds wild jabs across the necks of instruments where computer generated rhythmic pulses once where, wooden body beats, tongue clucks and hissing where there was once white noise; on the whole producing a more organic experiment. The title track is fashioned into a chilling and tense number, as the jarring bow slides of Maria Jeffer’s cello and Marla Hansen’s screeching viola compete for attention well into ‘Year Of The Monkey’.Album highlights ‘Year Of The Snake’ and ‘Year Of The Dragon’ see the duelling counter melodies violinists Jannina Barefield and Brooke Quiggins arouse a tense fury in their rapid articulation. To think that four musicians with only three different instruments can remodel Stevens's seemingly limitless arsenal of electronic sounds, despite some obvious compromises, is an incredible feat in itself, especially when executed with such lavish distinction.However, fans searching for more of Steven’s baroque inspired efforts will be left wanting, because, although based on Steven’s work this is basically a re-inspired re-worked cover album with the artist presence largely being that of Osso. Run Rabbit Run is a rare experiment that due to such care and talent has worked perhaps better than anyone thought possible. Nonetheless, like many fans who should possibly move on, I am still left waiting for a confident follow up to the beauty of 2005’s Illinoise.

Buy the album from Amazon | [itunes link="http://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/year-our-lord-arr-michael-atkinson/id331587265?uo=4" title="Run Rabbit Run" text="iTunes"]