Friday, January 29, 2010

Seann McCann - Midnight Orchard

Sean McCann
Midnight Orchard
(2009, Roll Over Rover)
RIYL = Scott Tuma, Silver Antlers, Aaron Martin

Initially, when considering how to introduce you to Sean McCann, I considered a kind of super post – an introduction to a portion of the works that the man produced last year (and trust me, there were a lot of them). I couldn’t bring myself to write about McCann last year for various illogical reasons which I’ll have to explain. First, to call Sean McCann prolific is to make one of the great understatements, perhaps the greatest understatement of 2009 (and 2008 for that matter). I think that I have used a line like that before, but you’ve never heard of anything like what McCann just did last year, I promise. The guy put out more music than Leyland Kirby, Caboladies and High Wolf combined. Discogs is telling me that he released 14 albums last year (and 11 the year before that). I know what you’re probably thinking. This guy must be recording himself eating cereal in the morning and brushing his teeth at night in order to put out that many albums. Not so. Not only has McCann put out 10 to 12 more albums than you favourite artist last year, the likelihood that each of those 14 albums was better than your favourite artist’s album is also probably true. How is that possible? I have no idea. McCann’s got me baffled. So, you’d think that for a guy putting out an average of 12 to 13 albums a year it would be pretty easy to get a hold of one. You’d be wrong again. Amongst the 14 releases under McCann’s name last year, the highest run of I could see was of 150 copies, averaging probably 60 or so per release. Why his releases are all so limited is beyond me; they’re each absolutely brilliant. And with them being all verging on out-of-this-world good, pretty much all of them are sold out. Can you see my predicament? How do I find and choose which Sean McCann to pitch to you? How do I competently listen to them all and report on them? What is the point of promoting albums that are not available? And I always feel funny putting albums that are limited to 100 or less physical copies onto a year end list for basically the same reasons. My mistake. Midnight Orchard, the cassette I've finally ended up writing about, should have not only been in my 2009 year end list, but my decade list as well. Don’t fret, there is light at the end of this tunnel. Sean McCann, the beautiful soul, has put out a lot of these cassettes, CDs and CDrs out on his own Roll Over Rover label who have in turn blessed you/me/the-world with digital copies of all the albums that have gone out of print. That means that you can download a good batch of these for free (including Midnight Orchard). And I’ll tell you this much, you are going to want to do just that. You are going to want to get good and familiar with Sean McCann because at the rate he is going, in another couple of years he’s going to own Music, with a capital M. Now lets talk about Midnight Orchard, shall we? The A side of the cassette consists of two tracks. The first, the album's namesake, is a forty minute exercise in pure melodic grandeur. There is no other way to consider it. The pacing and general tone here reminds me a lot of Scott Tuma, but McCann gets at this relaxed tonality by layer after layer of absolutely gorgeous strings. Cellos, Violins, Violas - I honestly don’t know what all he is using here, but rest assured, it is an orchestral vision that is blissfully unique and absolutely heavenly to listen to. McCann stirs up a thick syrup of amorphous strings that stretch and contort magnificently. Think of attending an orchestral performance in a grand opera house and the tuning that is occurring before the performance has begun and imagine it being slowed down and then meticulously arranged to produce the most blessed friction of noise. This is the droning wonderland "Midnight Orchard". The coda to side A is an even more impressive five minute stretch of gorgeousness that could probably be described in a manner similar to the forty minute stretch that proceeds it, but contains a whole different tonality, something of a more playful and experimental quality that completes the cassette nicely. Side B is stretched out over sixteen tracks and finds McCann working away at proving his skills with string arrangements. Each track is arranged wonderfully with added notes of muted percussion and often a more easily recognizable form attaching itself to each composition. Side B veers more closely to the works of Aaron Martin or Peter Broderick. The side is as well rounded as the first, and reveals and even wider spectrum of talent (something that you begin to get used to when traveling the many and varied waters of Sean McCann). I have posted the label’s link for this release below. I challenge you to download it and not fall in love. Soon you, like me, will be hanging on every release this guy puts out, hoping you too can secure a physical plot of genius produced by the hands of Sean McCann.


Click here to download Midnight Orchard for free!

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