The little secret behind the Illinois record is that it was originally conceived as a double album, culminating in a musical collage of nearly 50 songs. But as the project began to develop into an unwieldy epic, common sense weighed in - as did the opinions of others - and the project was cut in half. but as 2005 came to a close, Sufjan returned to the old, forsaken songs on his 8-track like a grandfather remembering his youth, indulging in old journals and newspaper clippings. What he uncovered went beyond the merits of nostalgia; it was more like an ensemble of capricious friends and old acquaintances wearing party outfits, waiting to be let in at the front door, for warm drinks and interesting conversation. among them were Saul Bellow, Ann Landers, Adlai Stevenson, and a brief cameo from Henry Darger's Vivian Girls. The gathering that followed would become the setting for the songs on The Avalanche: Outtakes and extras from the Illinois album. Sufjan gleaned 21 usable tracks from the abandoned material, including three alternate versions of Chicago. Some songs were in finished form, and others were mere outlines, gesture drawings, or musical scribbles mumbled on a hand-held tape recorder. most of the material required substantial editing, new arrangements or vocals. Much of the work was done at the end of 2005 or in January of the following year. Sufjan invited many of the original Illinoisemakers to fill in the edges: drums, trumpet, a choir of singers. The centrepiece, of course, was the title track - The Avalanche - a song intended for the leading role on the Illinois album but eventually cut and placed as a bonus track on the vinyl release.
2LP - On vinyl for the first time. Limited Hatchback Orange and Avalanche White Double Vinyl.
1. The Avalanche
2. Dear Mr Supercomputer
3. Adlai Stevenson
4. The Vivian Girls Are Visited In the Night by Saint Dargarius and his Squadron of Benevolent Butterflies
5. Chicago (acoustic version)
6. The Henney Buggy Band
7. Saul Bellow
8. Carlyle Lake
9. Springfield or Bobby Got a Shadfly Caught in his Hair
10. The Mistress Witch from McClure (or, The Mind That Knows Itself)
11. Kaskaskia River
12. Chicago (adult contemporary easy-listening version)
13. Inaugural Pop Music for Jane Margaret Byrne
14. No Man's Land
15. The Palm Sunday Tornado Hits Crystal Lake
16. The Pick-up
17. The Perpetual Self, or "What Would Saul Alinsky Do?"
18. For Clyde Tombaugh
19. Chicago (Multiple Personality Disorder version)
21. The Undivided Self (for Eppie and Popo)
Sufjan Stevens - The Avalanche