Can you believe this is the first time Sean McCann has ever been on vinyl? I mean the guy has released roughly 620 tapes and CDrs all of which range from being pretty damn good to pretty damn amazing. He's one of the most consistent players on the field so give ol' DNT a hand for finally moving McCann up to the big leagues.
The first side contains the side-long piece "Labyrinth" which seems to be drawing maybe a little inspiration from Steve Reich and that kind of sound while remaining unmistakably "McCann." There's a phantom pulse buried way down deep and McCann populates the piece by stacking flowing synthetic frequencies, glistening strings and ghostly vocal/guitar/electronics(?) muck. The piece just seems to wander without much arc but goes down real easy anyway. This guy is just a master of composition; he has complete control of every sound creates, yet he makes it seem effortlessly organic, as if its the music of a forest that always seems to just exist. The final few minutes are spectacularly beautiful. When McCann begins to change things up, he introduces the radiant, buzzing synths and mournful string melodies with so much grace you forget there's a human hand behind this. Probably more than anyone else in the underground, McCann's music really makes me feel something deep inside. My experience with his music goes far beyond "I like this. This guy is really good." (which is absolutely true.) But there's so much heart and passion in his music and he imbues it with such unmistakable beauty that I can't help but get a little choked up sometimes.
3 pieces fill out the b-side, the first of which is "County Heirlooms." The swirling jam adds drums, banjo, reeds and sloshed vocals to the mix and the piece flits in between loping country rhythms to loping reggae-ish rhythms. "County Heirlooms" is a pretty fitting title as the vibe I get from this is a total nostalgia flashback. And I don't mean nostalgia in the artificial way that's so popular right now; this piece sounds like listening to a whirlwind of memories. Sounds rush by ephemerally, only able to snatch glimpses before they're gone, never gaining a complete experience of their presence. But the larger sense you get from the piece is not confusion, just a contented, sunny smile. "Stasis" is only about 2 and a half minutes and its a nice little keyboard piece but its basically just a respite between the more robust "Heirlooms" and "The World He Left Behind." There's some fantastic moments on this album for sure but I think as far as an entire track is concerned my favorite is the finale. "The World He Left Behind" is less subtle with the synths and it sounds really great in the headphones. There's such a perfect melodic shifting that goes on almost subliminally in the bass frequencies that all the little bells and whistles he throws on top are merely icing on the cake. There's a bevy of chimes, strings and lots of keyboard melodies. It's the most dense piece on the LP, really leaving it in the listeners hands to take the plunge and explore everything it has to offer.
This is yet another excellent record from Sean. Surprise, surprise. I probably wouldn't call it my favorite McCann but its definitely up there on the top tier with the best of them and there are certainly many moments on here that belong in McCann's hall of fame. Everytime I listen to it I appreciate it more and more so maybe as time passes it may become my favorite, but by then who knows what other portals McCann will have opened. Regardless of my personal placement of it though this is a phenonmenal record from a true artist and at 400 copies you actually have a chance of physically owning the next essential piece of McCann's discography. Take the chance, as this record is staying. (It seemed right to me to end on a terrifying pun, deal with it.)
Available from DNT and now is a perfect time to buy as the DNT mailorder is opening back up this month. It'll be 12 bucks well-spent.