Is the fucking man
That's a poem I wrote for this review because that's the main point you should glean from it. I mean not many people have blogs written about them, other than the ones they write about themselves.
Anyway this is McCann's latest tape for Stunned and third overall effort for the imprint. And you know what? It's pretty goddam fucking good!
A lovely, lilting viola opens "Scapula" with a vaguely Gaelic/folk touch. A bunch more layers of viola creep in obscuring the initial beauty in lieu of a broader, more forceful sound. From there, rumbling mildly free drumming disrupts the proceedings as viola, sax, organ and effects all begin to wig out yet somehow retain that initial lilting beauty in the midst of a free jazz freakfest. It's really incredible. Especially because this stuff is all overdubbed and it doesn't sound like it. It's brisk and very alive and as far as I can tell there are no loops or anything, just a man putting his genius on tape. "Cottage Coffee Patch" brings in McCann's signature lush, glittering synths with an effected viola undertow swirling below. The track is incredibly busy; there is, what sounds like a million layers of synth, viola and who knows what else, but it still manages to maintain a calm center. McCann's on some next level hurricane shit right here. (If he ever enters the hip hop fray, "Hurricane Sean" just has to be his moniker) A moment of clarity is reached where most of the synth facade is scaled back revealing lovingly intertwined viola lines in some sort of starbursting glory. It's wild, wild stuff. It's hard to say which is better but "Broken Replicator" is pretty great too. After a thin, squiggly synth intro the track erupts into a surprisingly heavy burst of fuzz. From there the jam develops a stop/start structure of erupt/subside/erupt/subside etc. always finding a new way to blow the doors wide open. I definitely haven't heard McCann do anything quite like this before; it retains his aquatic "sound world" vibe but he's way more fierce and noisy here than I've ever heard him and the piece builds to a killer climax. The brief "Dissolving Memory" provides a bit of a breather at the end of the tape as if McCann is worried about blowing our minds too hard, too fast. It's a mellow drifter, real relaxing and minor-key.
That brings me to the centerpiece of this whole affair: "Pass Away." For "Pass Away" McCann has basically assembled The McCann Cosmic Family Band. Molly McCann tinkles the ivories, Kellen Shipley puffs on harmonica, Greg Manata jams on electric guitar and Jason Bannon is credited to bass and, rather ambiguously, "sounds" so I'm guessing McCann is holding down the synth/viola/sax/bandleader end of things.
Man, where do I start? This thing is a lovely, heaving massive beauty. Not a single wrong note is played. It's 17:33 of gorgeous, awe-inspiring music. This is the kind of thing you describe as "some alien jam session on the rings of saturn beamed through the asteroid belt and refracted to the dark side of moon where the International Space Station intercepts the transmission and relays it to earth onto this tape" because you have no fucking idea how to even approach it; it's too unfathomable that it exists in the first place. You just know that it's beautiful, that you love it and it's something of a magnitude you've never encountered before. For what it's worth I'll try my hand at a one sentence description: 5 inspired musicians jamming like they've been touched by the hand of God. Everyone involved is on the same celestial plane, it's magical.
Is Sean McCann the next Sun Ra? I don't know. But he is the first Sean McCann and that means a whole lot more to me.
"Still the Same" is given the unfortunate job of following up "Pass Away" but it grabs the reins with aplomb. It's a fast-paced futuristic march with what sounds like a synthetic bagpipe leading the way. It hits a slow dissolve into watery synth pitter patter and that's it.
We've got a true artist in our midst.
The Stunned crew did a heck of job too, packaging the tape in fittingly vibrant/frantic artwork and stunning blue cases. (pun not intended)
Buy every copy you can find, give them to everyone you know and try to heal this world just a little bit. RECOMMENDED.