Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Sean McCann - Midnight Orchard (Roll Over Rover CS)

Here's another one from Roll Over Rover... really heavy stuff from both releases I've heard from them so far. This one's by co-label head (along with Stew of Ugly Husbands fame) Sean McCann, who's been melting minds lately with releases on Peasant Magik and Cloud Valley (both killer) and now this, easily the heaviest date I've heard from him yet. With these dudes at the helm the label's sure to continue on some wild pathways seeing as how consistently this dude's been slipping into some marvelous inner stratospheres...

I guess the key factor on this release is its length. Its over 90 minutes long, and while his previous releases are mostly infested with warm synth goop and guitar moves, the opening title track here is pure symphonic drift. Bowed strings are caressed over and over in rich layers of lucid dust, building small melodic fragments in a soupy whole as it sways along with a definite aquatic Appalachia stance. Really slow and gentle lulling stuff, but with enough emotive sense to carry it along for its entire 40 minutes. The string quartet that Arvo Part didn't dare write, and a real and rare achievement that moves far beyond the sum of its parts. A must hear. That "Spun Around," the last five minutes of the side, aren't a total let down afterward is impressive enough, but the piece actually serves to strengthen the previous by exploring a different take on the same approach as strings glide around one another, humming and plucking like some backwards, pointillist sitar met with Derek Bailey. Beautiful.

The second side consists of a series of "Straw Hats," 16 to be exact, and each one explores more explicitly various facets seen in the previous side; country ramblings, lush drone realms and heavier fare that eeks toward the sublime. One minute light drifts of banjo meld with other strings to create soft and shattered ditties that both Henry Flynt and Fahey would surely approve of, making for a nice deconstructive vibe, but not without losing any of the melodic beauty of those forms done right. The next, repetitions of synth swirl and choral stretchings turn otherwise lovely drone sprawls into slow burning mountain movers. Each one is equally beautiful and well structured as it dips into another of McCann's seemingly endless streams of ideas.

Total mind burner of a tape and easily the best thing I've heard from McCann yet. Lucky for us there's 92 minutes of it. That McCann is capable of exploring such different realms with such impressive ease is comforting in a day when too many people play the same thing every time they step up to their synth. McCann will have you comparing him to different people all over the place, but he's doing it all as well as any of them; and he's doing it all. Limited, of course, so bust a move on this before he's on Deutsche Grammofon or ECM or something.

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